Apple’s new iPhone 5, expected out next year, won’t have one piece of gear common in other phones – a subscriber identity module (SIM) card.
Originally, it was reported that Apple was to have been partnering with Gemalto, a company that makes SIMs, to develop one for the iPhone. However, phone carriers worried that if the iPhone had a SIM, Apple would have had too much power and their clients would have been able to go between carriers more simply and more often.
A SIM is provided by a carrier, who then activates the phone and the SIM has the client’s info on it. Should the iPhone have had a SIM, carriers were concerned that people would agree to shorter service agreements and be able to change companies easier. They were even more concerned that it would make Apple a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO.
An MVNO is a company that provides cell phone services, but has no spectrum of their own. Instead, they rent a spectrum and run it under their own name. One such company is Virgin Mobile.
Some believe that Apple may develop a SIM for the iPhone in the future. But if so, some carriers say they won’t subsidize the cost of the phone for their customers. Earlier this month it was estimated that such subsidies make it possible for clients to pay far less for an iPhone. The average price through a subscriber’s carrier was about $200, while Apple’s retail price on an iPhone is about $600.
Several phone carriers in the UK and Europe are said to be on the list of carriers worried that Apple may someday include a SIM in the iPhone. SIM cards give users more versatility and can provide a medium for SIM-based applications and features. These are becoming ever more popular for not just phones such as the iPhone, but other types of electronic and digital gear.
Officials have speculated that if Apple does develop a SIM for iPhone, that it would give carriers a reason to give preference to other handset sellers, especially those with an Android device.
SIM or no SIM? For now, the answer is none, but the future could bring a different reply.