Apple might be developing a way to cut out the carriers and sell the iPhone directly to European consumers, according to a report by GigaOM. The rumor suggests that Apple is working with SIM-card maker Gemalto to create a special SIM card that lets consumers buy an iPhone that can be activated in an Apple Store or using the App Store. Thus, Apple customers could buy a device from Apple and go to the carrier for service afterward.
This might sound familiar because Google tried to do something similar with the Google Nexus One. Google tried to sell the much-hyped smart phone directly to consumers through the web, and customers would connect with the carrier after the sale. It turned out to be failed strategy because people generally like to have retail locations to try phones out before buying them and places to go for in-person support. Google ended its online sales of the Nexus One in July.
Apple’s supposed SIM card would let customers in Europe go to whatever carrier they preferred after purchasing a device. In Europe, many carriers use the same technology so chipsets don’t have to be as different as they do in the United States. In the U.S., Verizon Wireless and Sprint use CDMA technology while AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM chips, meaning that manufacturers have to create different versions of their phones to sell across various carriers.
It’s unclear whether this strategy could work in the U.S., but it is interesting to consider Apple cutting ties with carriers like AT&T and just selling devices themselves. What do you think? Would you be OK with buying an iPhone directly from Apple without full carrier support?