How iPad’s soft SIM lets Apple pit carriers against each other

“The SIM card is the most potent instrument of control in the mobile carrier’s hands, controlling the relationship with the customer and giving it unmatched information about how its users behave,” The Register reports.

“The humble SIM has enabled mobile operators to assert control over important areas which were not initially in their kingdom, such as security, Wi-Fi access (via EAP-SIM authentication) and possibly payments (via integrated NFC). No wonder, then, that Apple has consistently sought to seize some of that SIM-based power for itself – and now it has taken an important step in that direction, with the announcement of its own ‘Apple SIM’, which allows iPad users to switch between operators without juggling multiple SIM cards,” The Register reports. “Announced along with the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets last week, the soft SIM may seem a matter purely of convenience for consumers, many of which are used to having multiple SIM cards, particularly to get cheaper deals when abroad. But it has a far heavier symbolism in the delicate balance of power between Apple and the operators, since the vendor is actively enabling and encouraging its customers to be carrier-neutral, switching between short term plans whenever they see a better offer.”

“The logical next step, if Apple is brave enough, would be to embed the Apple SIM in all iPads and even iPhones, cutting out the operators’ beloved SIM card and all the business models that drives,” The Register reports. “Given past history, we would not expect this move to happen in the short term – perhaps not until embedded SIMs are becoming the norm anyway, driven by the very different needs of the internet of things (IoT).”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
AT&T locking carrier-interchangeable Apple SIMs in iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 – October 24, 2014
New ‘Apple SIM’ could significantly disrupt the wireless industry – October 17, 2014
Apple SIM card in new iPads challenges mobile networks – October 17, 2014


  1. Why would you need to embed a sim? Surely, a SIM is just holding data and if that data can be modified to suit whatever provider you’re using then why do you need all the extra circuitry?

  2. Some time ago Apple already tried to peddle a virtual SIM to carriers, embedding it in the logic board and eliminating both the hassle of a physical SIM and the need to set aside some space in the device for the SIM tray and its associated circuitry. Especially in the case of the Iphone, these savings in space and design workarounds were quite significant.
    Well, the answer to that was an obvious ‘no’. Forgoing the one piece of hardware that somewhat locked the customer to a carrier was simply not an option. It seems that Apple is going for a second try, this time with a cleverer strategy: the SIM trojan horse.

    1. Not if consumers see them coming, like via an ad from Sprint or T-Mobile spilling the beans. The only way AT&T will get any business is if they consistently underbid everyone else. That falls into the category of “verry interesting”, as strategies go.

  3. A multi-carrier sim would allow you to use the carrier with the best signal or the cheapest carrier.
    If you use 20% time on ATT then they only get about 20% of your monthly payment.
    That’s the game changer.

  4. There always has to be one in the bunch trying to spoil it for the rest. In this case, that’s AT&T. As though they don’t have enough business already. I had always wondered why there are some smartphones that offer multiple SIMs. Now I see why. I guess one can’t depend on carriers being generous.

  5. more…The SIM would be auto switching to the best signal/cheapest carrier.
    The selection choice could be user selectable.
    The SIM could be for the entire USA or conceivably worldwide.

  6. I don’t remember who had the idea, but I remember a discussion where Apple potentially buys/negotiates a ton of usage (talk time, data, text) from each of the carriers, then passes on the savings to its users. I think this could be a step in that direction, giving us the best signal at the best prices.

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