Apple to Sell Locked iPhones Directly to Customers in Europe

The Apple iPhone saga goes for another wild ride—Apple is now rumored to be building locked iPhones using proprietary SIM cards that it will sell directly to customers in European markets. These iPhones would be activated presumably via iTunes or the Apple Store and be sold with contracts and locked into those contracts and the carriers they are through. This news comes from GigaOM and from “sources inside European carriers.”

These special SIM cards that would allow Apple to completely cut out wireless carriers in the iPhone buying process, presumably up Apple’s bottom line and allow the company to expand its control. How is that for a spin? This comes at a time when Apple has just announced that the white iPhone 4 will be unavailable until sometime in spring 2011 and that the CDMA iPhone presumably for Verizon’s network has just entered production.

The problems with the white iPhone 4’s release are caused by “manufacturing” issues according to Apple and rumors have speculated that the massive delay for the white iPhone is due to a design flaw that allows light to enter the camera. The white, semi-translucent case for the white iPhone 4 apparently is the culprit. The problem is amplified when the iPhone 4’s flash is used and Apple is expected to redesign the iPhone 4 to fix the issue.

Apple redesigning the iPhone 4 to allow it to work on CDMA networks, fixing the camera problem in the white model and producing this special SIM card model to lock its smartphones might all come out in a new model in the spring. That would certainly make sense and allow Apple to release the iPhone 5 later in the year. Where does an LTE (long term evolution or 4G) iPhone model come into all of this? Probably not until 2012.

Remember, the first iPhone shipped without 3G abilities because AT&T was still deploying its 3G network. Apple also did not feel the need to put the 3G technology in because of how much electricity the new cellular radios consumed at the time. Same situation this time so expect the same move by Apple. It worked after all didn’t it? Everyone bought iPhone 3Gs and the original iPhone is just a memory.

How do you feel about Apple eventually selling you your iPhone through its own store on whatever carrier you want? Sure it would be locked, but you would get to use your phone on whatever network you wanted at the time. Apple would probably even unlock it for you at the end of your two year contract. Apple really doesn’t have a problem with jailbreaking besides the potential for software privacy but it does have a legal obligation to keep people from unlocking the phones it sells.

Let me know what you think.

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