Apple to offer universal, SIM-less iPhone in Europe?

If we know one thing about Apple it is this: they like control… and this latest rumor seems to reaffirm that creed. Blog GigaOM is reporting that Apple is planning to release an iPhone with an integrated SIM that can be used on any wireless carrier — partnered with Apple — in the EU. A universal iPhone if you will. As the report explains:

Sources inside European carriers have reported that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a special SIM card that would allow consumers in Europe to buy a phone via the web or at the Apple Store and get the phones working using Apple’s App Store.

This special SIM would have an upgradeable flash component as well as a ROM component. The article goes on to explain:

The ROM area contains data provided by Gemalto with everything related to IT and network security, except for the carrier-related information. The flash component will receive the carrier related data via a local connection which could be the PC or a dedicated device, so it can be activated on the network. Gemalto will provide the back-end infrastructure that allows service and number provisioning on the carrier network.

This would be yet another way that Apple can control the end-user experience — and potentially the distribution — of its popular smartphone device. For us, one of the benefits of using a SIM-based device is having the luxury of popping the little plastic card into virtually any compatible, GSM device you choose. What do you think?

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