Imagine owning the very first phone made. You’re the only one with a phone, meaning the only person you can call is the operator.
Now imagine owning an iPhone with an embedded SIM. The technology opens the door to network service being activated when the customer buys the handset, but as GigaOm points out, also offers the option of being a roaming customer on any network.
Making customers roamers opens the door to them having “a contract for a day, a week, a month or a year,” the site points out.
But it would also put those customers back to day one of the phone – no one would call them.
Say you have a contract that offers free calls to phones on your own network, and cheap €10 cents per minute connection to rival networks for outbound calls. If your iPhone-owning friend is on a different network that particular day, how would you budget for that call?
If they were ‘roaming’ would you have to pay €40 cents per minute, like when calling friends or colleagues abroad? And would the iPhone owner pay to receive calls?
Despite the questions, the GSMA has already set up a task force of operators to develop embedded SIMs to enable a raft of future services including e-wallet and NFC.
Chief Rob Conway explained that embedded SIMs would be designed to bring the many benefits of traditional cards to new devices, including “security, portability of contacts and ease of portability of devices across networks.”
While the press jumped on the Association’s release as evidence the month-old rumors of an Apple-Gemalto collaboration were true, the Sunday Telegraph reported that Apple had quietly ditched the plan following a backlash from European carriers.
However, The Register writer Bill Ray says the plan was never in the pipeline in the first place because the current GSM standard mandates a removable SIM.
But Ray does predict future iPhones will sport a soft-SIM, claiming the GSMA’s research project is a direct result of talks with Apple, which has asked for appropriate changes to the GSM standard.
In the meantime, the technology could be deployed in current iPads, the Telegraph reported, though how that would fit with the current GSM standard remains unclear.