Report: Apple To Cut Carriers, Sell Direct to Users

Many people were excited to see Google sell the Nexus One direct to consumer. While the search giant didn't completely cut out the middle man – the Nexus One was still sold through certain retail channels – the company's decision to offer customers an unlocked, off-contract device was celebrated.

Earlier this year, Google announced plans to shut down its online store. The company switched to only selling the device through retail partners and shortly after announced the Nexus One's new status as a 'developers only' handset. So Google's direct-to-consumer experiment was brief, but the company may have inspired a rival to look into similar options. Word on the street says Apple is looking into cutting out the carriers.

GigaOM reports that Apple is working with SIM card maker Gemalto to make an integrated iPhone SIM card that would allow Europeans to buy the iPhone from Apple and complete the activation process through the company, choosing their carrier at time of purchase.

According to GigaOM's sources, this new SIM will be embedded in a chip that has an upgradeable flash component and a ROM area. The ROM area will house data provided by Gemalto with everything related to IT and network security. The flash component will receive the carrier-related data via a local connection, allowing for activation via PC or similar dedicated device.

Though cutting out the carrier sounds like an attractive option and AT&T's exclusivity contract is apparently coming to an end, don't get too excited about seeing this kind of option for U.S. consumers. This kind of model is possible in Europe because not only does Apple already offer the iPhone across several networks, but also many European carriers utilize the same network technology.

Apple has yet to comment on the report.

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