Stacey Higginbotham over it GigaOM is working on a story about a partnership between Apple and SIM card manufactuer Gemalto. With this new partnership it looks like Apple has commissioned Gemalto to build a proprietary SIM Card system that will allow the purchaser of the Iphone to purchase the phone and then use a download off I-Tunes to activate the phone on the carrier of their choice, thereby eliminating the need for a trip or call to the carrier.
Currently, this model is only being discussed in European countries where the Iphone has been multi-carrier for quite sometime already. As you probably already know most, if not all of Europe is GSM/SIM Card based. In the United States we are half SIM/GSM via AT&T and T-Mobile, and the other half still more traditional CDMA, ala Verizon and Sprint.
This idea to circumvent the carrier could have been the ideal situation for Google and HTC for the release of the Nexus One, however with different carriers deciding at different times to not support the Nexus One project it was quickly pulled from the Google web store.
How does this work in technical terms? Gemalto has designed a SIM Card that has all of the networking and security infrastructure installed however it just leaves out the carrier variables. The customer would attach their new Iphone to Itunes and download a carrier pack/program to the phone which would insert the information that the phone needs to communicate on the network. There is even speculation that the customer would be able to purchase multiple plans from multiple carriers and “Flash” which carrier they want to use based on features, cost, minutes and geographic location.
Why is this post on thedroidguy.com? Because if succesful the Gemalto plan may actually transcend to all GSM based smartphones. If Apple could pull this off it would actually be a good thing for the whole smartphone world. Imagine taking your Samsung Vibrant and being able to download the frequencies and unlock AT&T, Rogers, o2, Vodaphone etc without having to switch out sim cards.
Although Apple is typically thought of as elitist, outkast, etc this time with this deal they may pave the way for something that would become very very mainstream.