Paris, November 22, 2010.
According to The Sunday Telegraph
, Apple has given up on its plan to release an iPhone with an Embedded USIM, after both American and European MNOs warned that they would stop subsidising the cost of Apple's smarphones since this move would exclude them from their native and critical customers relationships.
On the other hand, The Sunday Telegraph
understood that Apple is pushing ahead with a new Embedded SIM in its iPad 3G devices which aren't subsidised. Today iPad 3G devices embbeds a 3FF SIM card, also known as Mini-UICC or MicroSIM, which is half the size (12mm x 15mm) of classical SIM cards.
The new Apple Embedded USIM would likely adopt the new SIM/USIMform factor dedicated to M2M applications called MFF (Machine-to-Machine Form Factor), almost certainly the MFF1 (6,00 x 5,00 mm) which is well adapted for socketing (the other model, MFF2, is more dedicated to very rough environments). This embedded SIM is featuring secure channel and pairingin order to communicate with the host device, and through it towards iTune platform and other trusted telecom platforms for activation and provisionning, and at the end, when it is active on the selected MNO's network.
This new version of the iPad 3G is expected to be released in a few weeks, before Christmas or in early 2011.
Many questions remain.
Technical questions aren't an issue, but business models are. Clearly, SIM makers see this disruptive move as a threat since SIMalliance  considered that (U)SIM Card removability and accessibility by the end user is mandatory for personal mobile communications usage (control and privacy). No way for embedded SIM outside M2M apps.
In the other hand, GSMA (the official voice of MNOs)  posted one day after SIMalliance press release, an announcement of the formation of a task force of mobile operators to explore the development of an embedded SIM that can be remotely activated. "The embedded SIM will provide assured levels of security and portability for consumers, as well as provide additional functionality for enabling new services such as e-Wallet and NFC applications," says the GSMA release. Consumers (not machines) are still at the center of the game.
A kind of cacophony there? Who play the music?
Why GSMA position and SIMalliance aren't aligned? How MNOs can disagree with the Apple embedded SIM model for subsidised devices, and at the end of the day agree to outsource their subscription activation to Apple for non-subsidised devices? How can they disagree with the Apple embedded SIM model, and at the same time plan to promote the same kind of embedded SIM model? Where will be the differienciation?
We are inclined to understand this initiative is more active than reactive. A late response to Apple's move following a similar scenario of The Wholesale Applications Community initiave  launched less than one year ago which was also a late response to the App store successful model launched by Apple.
May be MNOs doesn't have say their last words. In linking The Wholesale Applications Community initiave and the GSMA embedded SIM task force, they could come back in the game. but it could also take too much time to be on time.
Â SIMalliance release
Â GSMA release
WAC last release
Follow us in subscribing to the upcoming issue of SCT. A complete story about Embedded SIM projects and initiatives, and their consequences on SIM/USIM/MIM card manufacturers and the smartcard security industry as a whole.
SCT-News : 22/11/2010 - © 2003, OMNIPRESS. All rights reserved.