As a follow on to my previous blog on Apple NFC.. another driver of Apple’s platform design, security and secure storage is the impending virtualization of the SIM.
As described in this patentlyApple
On November 3, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that they’re working on a possible future iPhone that will operate using a Virtual SIM Card. Apple states that it would be desirable to be able to provide improved ways in which to provide users with the ability to purchase and use wireless network services without the need of a SIM Card. According to Apple, a secondary benefit of switching to a Virtual SIM Card is that’ll improve security while allowing Jony Ive and his team to do what they do best: Design an ever thinner, astoundingly beautiful, next generation iPhone
Another interesting apple patent application: 20110306318
Apparatus and methods for provisioning wireless devices for operation in one or more networks. In one embodiment, a provisioning service may provide access client (e.g., Subscriber Identity Module) data to a secure element in the wireless user device. The device may be preloaded with a provisioning SIM profile. The device may use the provisioning profile to roam onto a carrier, and communicate with a provisioning service, which may present the user with a list of available wireless carriers, such as carriers that service the user’s current geographic location. In response to a user selection, the provisioning service may load a SIM profile associated with the selected carrier onto the secure element
You can thus see why it would make little sense for Apple to build an NFC controller that would be owned and operated by a carrier. Apple may allow for consumers to finally break free from post-paid long term contracts. Can you imagine a world where you phone provisioned service at the lowest cost.. for that particular market.. paid for out of your iTunes account? Talk about dumb pipes..
Just as you don’t care which backbone your home internet was routed through…. why would you care about the “Brand” of network? Same should hold true for payments. This is why I recommend carriers get very serious about an authentication service. The future “battle field” for profits will be centered around owning the consumer relationship and authenticating the customer for access to “cloud” services. Carriers physical distribution would serve well here.