Say goodbye to your iPhone SIM tray. Apple may be looking to get rid of their phones’ reliance upon SIM cards once and for all, instead replacing it with a custom, writeable module that would enable Cupertino to sell iPhones directly to the user without being locked to a specific carrier.
The rumor comes to us via GigaOm, whose sources say that Apple is working with SIM card manufacturer Gernalto to create a new, custom SIM chip that would be directly embdeed into the iPhone itself. Instead of wedging a plastic SIM card into your iPhone to get it talking to the carrier, this SIM module would be reprogrammable with carrier-specific data uploaded through Dock Connector or WiFi directly to memory.
In America, the benefits to consumers of this system once AT&T’s exclusivity deal lapses would be to allow shoppers to easily choose their carrier at time of purchase, or even switch carriers on an existing iPhone by just plugging it into iTunes. In Europe, though, where customers frequently roam outside of their local coverage area, this reprogrammable SIM module would allow users to easily switch to local carriers when a user leaves the country.
Interesting if true, but ultimately, Americans won’t see much benefit from the system unless Apple releases a future iPhone that is cross-compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks…. and since CDMA phones do not rely upon a SIM card the way that GSM phones do, perhaps this reprogrammable module is one of the hardware cornerstones of a Verizon-compatible iPhone 5.