Gigaom is reporting that Apple has joined forces with SIM card manufacturer Gemalto to develop a special SIm card that would enable new iPhone customers to set up their carrier service in an Apple Store or at home with a specially designed app. The rub is that consumers will be able to choose which carrier they want to sign up with without having to interact directly with the carriers themselves. The short of it is that it pushes carriers outside of the iPhone purchasing experience as much as practically possible.
The Gemalto SIM, according to my sources, is embedded in a chip that has an upgradeable flash component and a ROM area. 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.
The report notes that such a feature would mostly be beneficial to folks in Europe, where many countries have multiple carriers that each carry the iPhone and compete fiercely for customers.