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Carriers threaten Apple over talk of embedded iPhone SIMs

updated 06:45 pm EST, Thu November 18, 2010

Euro carriers warn Apple over embedded SIMs

European carriers are discussing the possibility of retaliating against Apple if it goes ahead with a rumored plan to use embedded SIMs in iPhones, leaks from the industry alleged Thursday night. The parent companies of O2, Orange and Vodafone have reportedly been worried that Apple was trying to take control of the "relationship" the carriers have by letting customers buy without having to talk to the carrier. An unnamed executive at one of the companies told the Financial Times that Apple could risk a "war" if carriers decided to stop subsidizing the iPhone on contract.

The providers are primarily worried that the move would give customers too much empowerment. It would further encourage customers to buy unlocked iPhones, since they could easily switch carriers or push for shorter contracts without having to confront a representative to cancel their existing service. Networks are afraid of becoming Internet providers, since they see it as a 'dumb pipe' where they can't charge extra for special features or otherwise distinguish themselves beyond quality of service.

None of the involved companies has commented on the claims.

An attempt to single out Apple may be counterproductive, as embedded SIMs have received official GSM Association backing and could be commonplace in phones by 2012. The plan, which has the help of several carriers mostly outside of Europe, is meant both to simplify activating a phone at home and to make 3G and 4G service possible in devices that are too small for any SIM card.

Apple had tried such an approach with the original iPhone in 2007 but was eventually forced to go to a traditional activation model. While it helped quickly move sales in stores, it led to teams of gray market importers from China and elsewhere buying phones in large numbers, often depriving genuinely interested locals of sales. Embedded SIMs potentially recreate the problem by letting these teams buy a locked device without having to provide account details before they to unlock it themselves.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Nov 2010

    -2

    comment title

    This sounds like another name for CDMA, embedded SIMS. Technically CDMA uses embedded sims, really really embedded sims.

  1. bleee

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2002

    +31

    RE: Dumb Pipes or ISP

    "It would further encourage customers to buy unlocked iPhones, since they could easily switch carriers or push for shorter contracts without having to confront a representative to cancel their existing service. Networks are afraid of becoming Internet providers, since they see it as a 'dumb pipe' "

    From a user, that's all I want you to be is a dumb pipe, we want you to be just like another utility bill. We don't want to be your friends or know what other amazing servies you can offer if we want it we'll come to you. Don't bother us.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Actually

    The parent companies of O2, Orange and Vodafone have reportedly been worried that Apple was trying to take control of the "relationship" the carriers have by letting customers buy without having to talk to the carrier.

    This sounds completely backwards. Wouldn't the concern about a 'simless' iPhone be that it's just another way for Apple to lock the user into a specific data plan and network?

    Simless just sounds like another example of 'making it harder on the customer'. So if you go to Spain, say, and want to get cheap service, instead of just buying a cheap pre-paid SIM from the store, you need to connect to iTunes and ask Apple for the privilege of switching your carrier?

    And since when did customers start complaining about the 'complexity' that is the SIM card? h***, I helped a friend move from a Nokia to a Razr by doing nothing buy popping out the card from one and sticking it in the other. It shouldn't need to be more complicated than that.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    0

    Seems like some sort of

    consumer push-back would be necessary. About the best way is to cancel any non-contractual services, like texting, add-on data plans, and the like. Hit them in the wallet.

    Most folk also have a computer that can handle most data type communications, and the existence of those services on the phone is generally a "really good to have" as opposed to a necessity.

    Of course organization of such an action would be somewhat difficult, as many users don't seem to know the difference between really good to have, and necessity. It would also not be a passive activity in that it would require the users to actually do something.



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