The Financial Times reports that Samsung and Apple are both in talks with the GSMA, the mobile telecom telecom industry association, to begin employing electronic SIM cards in their mobile devices. Electronic SIMs (or e-SIMs) differ from their physical predecessors in that they don’t lock users into a specific carrier network and would allow them to switch any device between an network instantly. So, remember how when the iPhone debuted, it was only available on AT&T? That won’t happen with e-SIMs — any phone, tablet or network-enabled gadget will work with any carrier that supports the technology. Apple itself actually tried its own take on e-SIMS with the last generation of iPads, though only T-Mobile and AT&T supported that feature.
But while the association is confident that a “common architecture” will eventually be adopted by the entire industry, we’re still at least a year away from actually seeing a device with these cards. “With the majority of operators on board,” Anne Bouverot, chief executive of the GSMA, told Financial Times. “The plan is to finalise the technical architecture that will be used in the development of an end-to-end remote SIM solution for consumer devices, with delivery anticipated by 2016.”