It is rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself. Then customers will then be able to choose their carrier at purchase at the Apple web site or retail store, or buy the phone and get their handset up and running through a download at the App Store as opposed to visiting a carrier store or calling the carrier. Either way it reduces the role of the carrier in the iPhone purchase. Gemalto and Apple have not responded to requests for comment. I am also waiting to hear back from other sources to get more details.
The SIM is said to have a upgradeable flash component and a ROM area. Gemalto will load the ROM area with IT and network security info and the flash area will receive carrier data via a local connection. Gemalto is also said to be providing the back-end infrastructure needed for provisioning.