The US patent and trademark office published a patent application from Apple according to reports of PatentlyApple. This patent details on the future usage of iPhone with a virtual SIM card integrating Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
This will allow the users of iPhone to bypass carriers while purchasing an iPhone and will use a carrier-chooser App store app to select the network of their choice. Apple made their plans to possibly overcome the problems in Europe, where European carriers are going to not to subsidize iPhone.
This patent was originally filed in Q4 2010. This patent will not only allow Apple to reduce the carriers’ cost from their sales but also help to produce next iPhone, which will be thinner and beautiful.
Apple’s solution is very complex and unless you’re grounded in this particular field you’re going to get lost. However, while the patent discusses the use of Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM)) cards, the real discovery here is that Apple is considering a model of iPhone that may use a next generation Virtual SIM card that includes a NFC Router and tamper-proof security. It’s only in this mode that Apple’s background description of creating a thinner device makes any sense.
In Apple’s patent FIGS. 5a and 5b shown below we see two exemplary embodiments of a hardware architecture (502, 504) for a “virtual” Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) according to the invention. Unlike prior art solutions, the exemplary embodiments of FIGS. 5a and 5b store a USIM 506 within an embedded Secure Element (SE) 508, which isn’t a removable card. The first illustrated embodiment 502 of the present invention (FIG. 5a) additionally includes a Near Field Communication (NFC) router 510.
Two other patents by Apple are “Methods and Apparatus for Preserving Battery Resources in a Mobile Communications Device” and “Systems and Methods for Hot Plug GPU Power Control”. These are also published today.