Despite Apple’s reputation for being a control freak—keeping their app store behind an ivory gate, limiting what computer languages can be used on their devices—but they may some day through the American cell phone industry into a dynamic beyond unlocked cell phones.
There are many reasons to love unlocked cell phones: having no contract so you can get the best deal, being able to mod the software and delete the carrier junk apps (and then scratching off the corresponding branding), and just being able to say f-you to the companies.
Well, Apple may do all that for you. They’ve already told the carriers a big NO to branding and preloaded add-apps—but they were also recently awarded a patent that would extend those unlocked cell phone like services, AND do the work for you.
Basically, Apple would become a middle-man between the user and the phone companies, leveraging their iPhone popularity for the lowest rates, switching between or mixing and matching different companies without a user ever seeing a dip or change in service. They could even take payments, making the branding, contracts, and other junk associated with all the carriers obsolete.
Of course, unlocked cell phones would still have a place, since not everyone would want an iPhone, so you have to assume that a dual system of some sort would have to emerge, but it’s an interesting future to think about. You’d never have to risk bricking your phone to unlock it again!