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Apple pushing new industry standard for even smaller SIM cards

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Apple is said to have proposed a new standardized SIM card even smaller than the current micro-SIM used in the iPhone 4, potentially allowing for even thinner devices.

An executive with European wireless carrier Orange shared the details on Tuesday with Reuters. Anne Bouverot, Orange's head of mobile services, said the carrier supports Apple's proposed standard.

"We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) for a smaller SIM form factor -- smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad," she reportedly said at the Global Technology Summit in Paris.

Apple has apparently pursued the new standard with the backing of "some major mobile operators," including Orange. It was not revealed what other companies are supporting Apple's proposal.

Micro-SIM cards were first adopted by Apple last year in the first-generation iPad. Later in 2010, the iPhone 4 also utilized the new, smaller Micro-SIM card.

Late last year, it was said that Apple was developing its own open embedded SIM card that would work with multiple carriers. That change would have allegedly allowed customers to shop for mobile service directly from an Apple Store, eliminating the need for users to work with the carriers.



But Apple was said to have abandoned those plans after carriers in Europe allegedly threatened to cut subsidies. Mobile operators reportedly accused Apple of trying to wrest control of customers away from the carriers.

While the embedded SIM plan allegedly fell apart with strong opposition from carriers, Apple is apparently taking a more partnership-driven approach with its new proposal -- and carrier backing -- for a smaller, standardized SIM card.
post #2 of 43
good.
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post #3 of 43
Quote:
Micro-SIM cards were first adopted by Apple last year in the first-generation iPad.

Lest anyone think that Micro-SIM cards are some sort of Apple-only proprietary format, it was originally conceived in 1998 and was standardized in 2003 by the UMTS Working Party. Apple simply adopted it first (while the other handset manufacturers sat timidly on the sidelines worried about backward compatibility).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_SIM#Formats


That article also includes a photo of the actual 'chip', without the plastic carrier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Di..._Card_Film.JPG

As can be seen, there's a lot of room for further miniaturization without even having to shrink the chip itself (which could probably be reduced quite a bit further these days).
post #4 of 43
Micro SIM looks to have failed to gain the attention of other manufacturers and rightly so - it isn't THAT much smaller than a standard SIM.
post #5 of 43
While I'm all in favor of lessening carrier control over the devices we use, or how we use them, I don't like this anorexic drive to make devices so thin. The current iPod Touch is already thin enough imo, thinner would mean having to get unnecessary/unwanted adapters to use with my current accessories.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Late last year, it was said that Apple was developing its own open embedded SIM card that would work with multiple carriers. That change would have allegedly allowed customers to shop for mobile service directly from an Apple Store, eliminating the need for users to work with the carriers.

I find it irritating that carriers can still slow down the pace of technology, such as the embedded SIM ,..in today's world a Sim card is soooo old hat,.. do you really think we will still be inserting SIM cards in our devices in a few years time ,..

Its about time that the carriers woke up and smelt the coffee,..

Come on Steve Jobs, ignore the carriers, implement the embedded SIM its a great idea ,...
post #7 of 43
I just don't think Apple understands what standards are for.

They keep creating so many new ones, for such short lifetimes, that we lose the benefit of interoperablility and reusability.

If this change were necessary for gaining freedom from carriers and really changed the market, then there'd be some pay back for the change; but aren't we already clear that the carriers don't want that.

If the change is just to make devices a bit thinner, then it's a horrible idea as they'll just repeat the exercise in a couple of years and create even more incompatibility.

Right now, if I want to go mountain biking in some other country, I can drop my iPhone SIM into a cheap unlocked local phone and stay in touch. If I wreck the phone, then no problem. This adhoc flexibility is a major benefit of real standards, rather than paper standards. Apple ( and geeks ) don't get it.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #8 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by marokero View Post

While I'm all in favor of lessening carrier control over the devices we use, or how we use them, I don't like this anorexic drive to make devices so thin. The current iPod Touch is already thin enough imo, thinner would mean having to get unnecessary/unwanted adapters to use with my current accessories.

Or... it could stay the same thickness with added battery capacity.

There is no precedent in computing where the componenets became physically larger over time for the same functionality. Reduce the 'guts' to zero, and leave the packaging up to the industrial design team.

(Put another way: the electronics necessary for a four-function calculator have been reduced to microscopic size, yet four-function calculators didn't likewise reduce to the size of a pin-head.)
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by PXT View Post

If the change is just to make devices a bit thinner, then it's a horrible idea.

You clearly don't design portable devices for a living. Think of what Apple (and everyone else) has to go through to design and manufacture a Cray-level computer that fits in your pocket. Why give up a significant percentage of interior volume to a dumb piece of plastic that serves no purpose other than to spread out the contact area of a 1990's-era chip?

(And it's not just the SIM that takes up space; the entire drawer mechanism is lost volume as well.)


Added after original reply:
Quote:
as they'll just repeat the exercise in a couple of years and create even more incompatibility.

We don't know what they have in mind. If it's suitable for a decade or more would that be worth it?

(The original SIM standard dates back to 1991, which has persisted for 20 years now.)
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Di..._Card_Film.JPG

As can be seen, there's a lot of room for further miniaturization without even having to shrink the chip itself (which could probably be reduced quite a bit further these days).

Not your fault of course, but why do people always take a picture of something next to a stupid dime like that? Not all of us have American dimes in our pockets and I can't even think of the last time I even used a dime, let alone an American one.

This might be kind of radical, but how about using a ruler? You know with measurement markings on it? </gripe>
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

You clearly don't design portable devices for a living. Think of what Apple (and everyone else) has to go through to design and manufacture a Cray-level computer that fits in your pocket. Why give up a significant percentage of interior volume to a dumb piece of plastic that serves no purpose other than to spread out the contact area of a 1990's-era chip?

(And it's not just the SIM that takes up space; the entire drawer mechanism is lost volume as well.)


Added after original reply:

We don't know what they have in mind. If it's suitable for a decade or more would that be worth it?

(The original SIM standard dates back to 1991, which has persisted for 20 years now.)

The thing with Apple in particular is that they keep generating new so-called standards so much faster than anyone can get enough use out of them. To have real-world value as a standard it has to have the longevity you mentioned for SIM cards and I don't trust that Apple would get that given how often their customers are expected to replace all their devices and buy adapters. Perhaps if they were talking about a programmable chip to make SIMs go away completely, while being able to move numbers between phones, switch carriers, and handle new rules for the next 20 years, then it might look serious.

Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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Many of the most important software concepts were invented in the 70s and forgotten in the 80s.

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post #12 of 43
I wonder why people don't resist this type of control?

I haven't had a a cellular phone that was in any way linked to the carrier since 1994 when I moved to GSM from NMT900. There was just one NMT900 network so it wasn't an issue.

I have always bought the phones from a store I wanted, without any contract, replaced with new phones when I've wanted, and kept or sold the old ones. Always used unlocked, unsubvented phones. I've usually kept the same carrier for years unless there was a problem, changing the subscription whenever necessary.

Micro-SIM is ok because I can cut any standard SIM card to the micro size.
If the SIM card gets smaller, I no longer have a choice of carrier as every carrier may not provide the smaller size.
If the SIM card gets embedded, I'm stuck with whom Apple works with. If traveling, I can't no longer put in a local pre-pay SIM card and my costs to a fraction.

I would prefer to continue to have freedom of choice.
post #13 of 43
The new SIM card nano. 1,000 contacts. Impossibly small.

Only from Apple.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already fucked.

 

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post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This might be kind of radical, but how about using a ruler? You know with measurement markings on it? </gripe>

So you could instead gripe about them using a ruler with English units and not metric units?
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Micro SIM looks to have failed to gain the attention of other manufacturers and rightly so - it isn't THAT much smaller than a standard SIM.

Then why would any phone maker use micro SD cards vs. regular SD cards? The difference in sizes is roughly equivalent.

I really don't see why Micro SIM is such a bother, a SIM is easily modified because it's almost all plastic, and adapters are trivial to make, and cheap to buy. I made a couple in less than 15 minutes, and it worked like a champ. It makes little sense that Micro SD has been accepted, but not Micro SIM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Not your fault of course, but why do people always take a picture of something next to a stupid dime like that? Not all of us have American dimes in our pockets and I can't even think of the last time I even used a dime, let alone an American one.

This might be kind of radical, but how about using a ruler? You know with measurement markings on it? </gripe>

Maybe the rulers most people have would dwarf that circuit.

If it helps, a US dime is about 18mm in diameter. Just glancing at it, I'd say the chip is about 6mm x 10mm.
post #16 of 43
I mean really...
post #17 of 43
I hope they go with my screw design. A thin screw with a flat tip for a contact point, with a thin insulator between it and the cylindrical edge for the other contact point, with the threads further separated and farther up the shaft closer to the head.

These devices no longer need to store contract information and therefore could be reduced in data storage capacity and size in multiple ways.
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post #18 of 43
Getting thinner doesn't matter much to me anymore. I'd rather they kept it the size they have and focus on packing more cpu power and batteries into the things.
post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scafe2 View Post

I find it irritating that carriers can still slow down the pace of technology, such as the embedded SIM ,..in today's world a Sim card is soooo old hat,.. do you really think we will still be inserting SIM cards in our devices in a few years time ,..

Its about time that the carriers woke up and smelt the coffee,..

Come on Steve Jobs, ignore the carriers, implement the embedded SIM its a great idea ,...

Sure. So we can all go back to the days when the telcos decided whether or not you could update your phone (since you needed their help transferring contacts). Only this time, it'll be Apple instead of a telco controlling your usage.

No thanks.

As has been pointed out, one of the big benefits of a SIM is the ability to change phones on the fly. If Apple controls that function, you'll be limited only to iPhones. Say hello to sky high roaming charges when you travel.
post #20 of 43
For once, I would like to see Apple play nice and get the other OEMs onboard with this. So the standard catches on, with more than just Apple.

Right now, the micro-SIM is still essentially an Apple only device.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Lest anyone think that Micro-SIM cards are some sort of Apple-only proprietary format, it was originally conceived in 1998 and was standardized in 2003 by the UMTS Working Party. Apple simply adopted it first (while the other handset manufacturers sat timidly on the sidelines worried about backward compatibility).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_SIM#Formats


That article also includes a photo of the actual 'chip', without the plastic carrier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Di..._Card_Film.JPG

As can be seen, there's a lot of room for further miniaturization without even having to shrink the chip itself (which could probably be reduced quite a bit further these days).

Now how about RUIM cards for CDMA phones?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Removab...dentity_Module
post #22 of 43
Thanks Apple! For being on the cutting edge! Everyone else just follows and tries to make their products as cheap as possible!
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

Sure. So we can all go back to the days when the telcos decided whether or not you could update your phone (since you needed their help transferring contacts). Only this time, it'll be Apple instead of a telco controlling your usage.

No thanks.

As has been pointed out, one of the big benefits of a SIM is the ability to change phones on the fly. If Apple controls that function, you'll be limited only to iPhones. Say hello to sky high roaming charges when you travel.

Apple already controls that function as much as they can, I don't see the new system really being any different.
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Apple already controls that function as much as they can, I don't see the new system really being any different.

It's quite different. Today, you can take your SIM out, slap it in an adaptor and throw it in any GSM phone. Once you have a 'virtual' SIM you can't do that. You can't switch out handsets when you want (like the biking example given above). You can't avoid roaming fees when you travel (by switching SIMs) if you have an unlocked iPhone. And you'll only be restricted to carriers who work with Apple. All that is quite restrictive. Even for the US, where wireless users are used to very locked down devices.
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

It's quite different. Today, you can take your SIM out, slap it in an adaptor and throw it in any GSM phone. Once you have a 'virtual' SIM you can't do that. You can't switch out handsets when you want (like the biking example given above). You can't avoid roaming fees when you travel (by switching SIMs) if you have an unlocked iPhone. And you'll only be restricted to carriers who work with Apple. All that is quite restrictive. Even for the US, where wireless users are used to very locked down devices.

I see, so it is tighter, but Apple's are already generally carrier locked anyway, wherever they can do that, so really, it's a bit more of the same.
post #26 of 43
Just when Apple has the competition ramping up for tablets, maybe it heading the other way. Make the iPhone smaller. Use a small base unit maybe with a 2 inch screen with a holographic projector. Use the finger to manipulate icons in the hologram. Touch an icon and hologram disappears. Yes it could happen.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I see, so it is tighter, but Apple's are already generally carrier locked anyway, wherever they can do that, so really, it's a bit more of the same.

Outside the US, unlocked iPhones are not uncommon. In those cases, having direct control over your own SIM card (and phone, for that matter) is very desirable.

It's unfortunate that carriers and customers have such an antagonistic relationship in terms of wireless service, but having physical control over the SIM itself is a little bit of leverage in the customer's favor. (Loose analogy: separating cars from their fuel vendor provides similar flexibility.)
post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

It's quite different. Today, you can take your SIM out, slap it in an adaptor and throw it in any GSM phone. Once you have a 'virtual' SIM you can't do that. You can't switch out handsets when you want (like the biking example given above). You can't avoid roaming fees when you travel (by switching SIMs) if you have an unlocked iPhone. And you'll only be restricted to carriers who work with Apple. All that is quite restrictive. Even for the US, where wireless users are used to very locked down devices.

I'm still not seeing the issue. As JeffDM stated Apple locks down the device to the cerise where and whenever it can. In the countries that require a phone to be unlocked after a certain point or from the getgo they will still be required to do so.

Plus, we are seeing Apple push for a new industry standard not create a propreiraty standard only it understands. I'm all for the smaller SIM or even an industry standard access to a built-in, configurable SIM that can be changed by NFC, QR code, or simply inputting the SIM credentials into the iPhone's settings via a broadband bootloader utility.
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post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm still not seeing the issue. As JeffDM stated Apple locks down the device to the cerise where and whenever it can. In the countries that require a phone to be unlocked after a certain point or from the getgo they will still be required to do so.

Plus, we are seeing Apple push for a new industry standard not create a propreiraty standard only it understands. I'm all for the smaller SIM or even an industry standard access to a built-in, configurable SIM that can be changed by NFC, QR code, or simply inputting the SIM credentials into the iPhone's settings via a broadband bootloader utility.


Well, consider me an Apple fanboy but I'm smelling iPhones coming with a choice of a 2 gig card for $20 or a 4 gig one for $35, with no option to buy one without the card so you could get an 8 gig one at NewEgg for $12, and I'm not being facetious.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post

Well, consider me an Apple fanboy but I'm smelling iPhones coming with a choice of a 2 gig card for $20 or a 4 gig one for $35, with no option to buy one without the card so you could get an 8 gig one at NewEgg for $12, and I'm not being facetious.

Im not following. Why would you need GB of data on a SIM card? If you are referring to an SD card, they arent the same thing and they are considerably slower than the on-board NAND Apple uses in their devices.
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post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Im not following. Why would you need GB of data on a SIM card? If you are referring to an SD card, they arent the same thing and they are considerably slower than the on-board NAND Apple uses in their devices.



My bad. Not being a smartphone owner I mistook it for storage.
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I’m not following. Why would you need GB of data on a SIM card?...

If you are going to make a new physical form factor for SIMs (instead of changing the actual application running on the SIM or more accurately the UICC), it makes sense to increase the storage size as well since today many people have much more data in their contact than before (more fields and varying content such as photos of the contacts etc.).

The older SIMs cannot _in practice_ store the new bits of information because the operators haven't gone and reallocated SIMs for their subs.. Bringing a new SIM forces a new SIM on all users. Then you can increase the capacity and bring the SIM back to it's original intent: your subscription + your contacts all intact on the SIM card.

Also more apps on the SIM itself wouldn't be all that bad. Operator specific Apps for subscription management etc. Not necessarily in the multi GBs, but more that the average today wouldn't hurt.

Regs, Jarkko
post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm still not seeing the issue. As JeffDM stated Apple locks down the device to the cerise where and whenever it can. In the countries that require a phone to be unlocked after a certain point or from the getgo they will still be required to do so.

Plus, we are seeing Apple push for a new industry standard not create a propreiraty standard only it understands. I'm all for the smaller SIM or even an industry standard access to a built-in, configurable SIM that can be changed by NFC, QR code, or simply inputting the SIM credentials into the iPhone's settings via a broadband bootloader utility.


Push for a standard that prevents the user from using any carrier that they haven't approved? And you're ok with that?

I travel around Europe every summer, in and out of maybe five or six countries, and I have do pay roaming charges to carriers that Apple approves rather than buy a local SIM in each country? Do you realise the costs involved in that? Where is the possible benefit for the user other than the device being a micron thinner? Are Apple's approved carriers of a higher quality or something?

Don;t kid yourself, Apple are pushing for one thing and one thing only with this, a bigger slice of the pie. This does not benefit the user in any way, only the carrier and Apple, as it keeps the user locked down to both.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by neiltc13 View Post

Micro SIM looks to have failed to gain the attention of other manufacturers and rightly so - it isn't THAT much smaller than a standard SIM.

Other manufacturers, just don't use it because of the cost of a micro-SIMcardholder.
The old simcardholders are really cheap, because it is a very old standard
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scaramanga89 View Post

Push for a standard that prevents the user from using any carrier that they haven't approved? And you're ok with that?

I travel around Europe every summer, in and out of maybe five or six countries, and I have do pay roaming charges to carriers that Apple approves rather than buy a local SIM in each country? Do you realise the costs involved in that? Where is the possible benefit for the user other than the device being a micron thinner? Are Apple's approved carriers of a higher quality or something?

Don;t kid yourself, Apple are pushing for one thing and one thing only with this, a bigger slice of the pie. This does not benefit the user in any way, only the carrier and Apple, as it keeps the user locked down to both.

The key term here is "standard" as in, any carrier and manufacturer would be free to adopt it. The article does not say Apple is pushing for a proprietary SIM format. We'd never seen mass adoption of micro sims in Aus before either, but as soon as the iPhone 4 used it you can bet every carrier offered it the same day.

They can still lock out alternate carriers at the software/baseband level, but that is a completely different argument and irrelevant to this article. No new standard of SIM would, in itself, prevent you switching carriers.
post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by oodlum View Post

The key term here is "standard" as in, any carrier would be free to adopt it. The article does not say Apple is pushing for a proprietary SIM format. We'd never seen mass adoption of micro sims in Aus before either, but as soon as the iPhone 4 used it you can bet every carrier offered it the same day.

They can still lock out alternate carriers at the software/baseband level, but that is a completely different argument and irrelevant to this article. No new standard of SIM would, in itself, prevent you switching carriers.



It would prevent me switching carriers as although it might be adopted (relatively quickly) in the UK, it may not be in Poland, Germany, Latvia, Greece, or anywhere else I travel.

Australia is the same model as the US, you have a few carriers that cover the entire country. Europe is a different usage model.
post #37 of 43
Solipsism,

I'm not suggesting that Apple is pushing forward a proprietary standard. I'm suggesting that if the standard is not common with other OEMs, it certainly has that effect.

In any event, I was responding to the suggestion of an internal SIM. A really tiny SIM card is something I have no problem with. You can always use an adaptor.
post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jetz View Post

Solipsism,

I'm not suggesting that Apple is pushing forward a proprietary standard. I'm suggesting that if the standard is not common with other OEMs, it certainly has that effect.

In any event, I was responding to the suggestion of an internal SIM. A really tiny SIM card is something I have no problem with. You can always use an adaptor.

With the ease at which a SIM can be cloned, the simpliaty of the chip, the minuscule amount of data it holds, and the size of the cards compare to useful chips in modern phones I have no problem with future SIMs being built in.

Imagine traveling to another country, buying a little card that has not a plastic card you have to break out of a larger plastic card, find a paperclip or remove your battery to input a new SIM, but instead access the broadband settings of your device either from a BIOS-like pre-boot screen or directly from the OSes settings. You scratch off the film on the card you bought and input the unique ID. Now, because it's held internally you can jump from country to country and carrier to carrier without having to carry a pocket full of SIMs. Just switch SIM ID and reboot your phone.
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post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Imagine traveling to another country, buying a little card that has not a plastic card you have to break out of a larger plastic card, find a paperclip or remove your battery to input a new SIM, but instead access the broadband settings of your device either from a BIOS-like pre-boot screen or directly from the OSes settings. You scratch off the film on the card you bought and input the unique ID. Now, because it's held internally you can jump from country to country and carrier to carrier without having to carry a pocket full of SIMs. Just switch SIM ID and reboot your phone.

Well, this brings up a better model for buying phone service, although the carriers would never go for it. One could buy minutes (and/or buckets of data) online and store them in an 'account' linked to your phone's ID. Without relying on a physical SIM, you could actually have minutes from multiple carriers stored up and you choose which one to draw upon while traveling. There would be a utility on the phone to manage it all.

I'm pretty sure this is what Apple was going for when the rumors circulated about them trying to get rid of SIMs altogether. But again, the carriers hate the idea because it pushes them into Dumb Pipe territory. (It also assumes that you own your own unlocked phone, paid for without carrier subsidies.)
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

Well, this brings up a better model for buying phone service, although the carriers would never go for it. One could buy minutes (and/or buckets of data) online and store them in an 'account' linked to your phone's ID. Without relying on a physical SIM, you could actually have minutes from multiple carriers stored up and you choose which one to draw upon while traveling. There would be a utility on the phone to manage it all.

I'm pretty sure this is what Apple was going for when the rumors circulated about them trying to get rid of SIMs altogether. But again, the carriers hate the idea because it pushes them into Dump Pipe territory. (It also assumes that you own your own unlocked phone, paid for without carrier subsidies.)

Sure, its in their best interests to fight it but I think that ultimately the handsets will rise up over the telcos. The problem with buying this data from Apple is that you need to have some sort of internet connection to do it. If you run out before you can get to the online store this could be an issue if youre no where near free WiFi. This is why I think a physical purchase, just with current disposable SIM cards, would still be used, just without the SIM card.

Also, I dont think it assumes the device isnt subsidized or without a contract, just that its unlocked. For example, I could still be locked to AT&T with a 2 year contract but if my phone was unlocked I could then use these stored SIMs and minutes/data as I travel despite still be responsible for my contractual obligations to AT&T back home.

I think something like this is inevitable, not just a a reduction of the plastic around the standard SIM card.
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