We've all heard the rumors that the next iPhone will feature a world radio by Qualcomm, combining both GSM and CDMA frequencies. Apple's idea was to allegedly put a programmable SIM card inside the iPhone, and to make switching carriers a breeze via an app. We can imagine how that could have raised the hair on carriers' necks, since then everyone will be able to switch carriers quickly on the go, comparison-shopping for the best deal while abroad, for instance, instead of paying the ugly roaming charges.
Still, it seems that Apple might implement this idea under one form or another, or maybe it is just trying to protect its intellectual rights over it. Last year, Cupertino has filed a patent called "Method and Apparatus for Using a Wireless Communication Device with Multiple Service Providers" (boy, who's coming up with those titles?), and it was made public just recently.
Such an open SIM module would make great sense for the rumored affordable iPhone, relying heavily on iCloud, which is supposedly mulled to reign in on the huge prepaid crowd, especially in emerging markets.