First Apple cut carriers out of the software delivery business. Now the tech giant wants to eliminate the last hold carriers have on customers: the sim card. But should the smartphone maker destroy its partners to build a slimmer iPhone?
For Apple, a so-called “e-SIM” would have plenty of advantages. First, replacing the hardware card would enable Cupertino designers to further shrink the iPhone – perhaps making an iPhone nano more than intriguing speculation. If Apple CEO Steve Jobs adores small things, he absolutely loves control. Having total control of an iPhone user experience would finally solve the problem of hackers ‘jailbreaking’ the handset.
However, one has to be sympathetic to carriers in this case. They are bleeding from loss of revenue. Texting is outnumber voice calls. VoIP applications are stealing even more money. Now Apple wants to make it easy for subscribers to jump ship. Verizon Wireless, which has jumped through hoops for more than a year to obtain the iPhone, must be furious. The e-SIM route would make it “very difficult for a telco or carrier to manage the customer relationship,” France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard said recently.
Perhaps more questionable is whether an e-SIM would damage overall security for cell phone owners. If a person can buy an iPhone, hack the SIM, he or she could mimic anyone. What kind of nightmare would that spawn?
In an attempt to appease Apple’s desire for total control, carriers reportedly want to stall the effort, instead throwing their support behind a smaller SIM card design. Steve could still pursue plans for a chicklet-sized cell phone and carriers could live for another day.
These events only show even Apple can have a bad idea. Carriers, however, shouldn’t get used to wearing the white hat for a change.