The iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 come with the Apple SIM—at least sometimes

In theory, the first Apple-made SIM card should break the lock carriers hold on new iPad users, freeing them to easily move from one cellular network to another. Too bad America’s biggest mobile operators are gumming up the works.

SIM cards typically identify mobile devices to a particular network. Apple’s new cards, however, are programmable, making it possible to switch carriers with a software update. That will not stand at AT&T, which will lock down Apple SIMs to its network, or at Verizon, which won’t support them at all. (Big Red will instead supply its own dedicated SIMs.)

See also: AT&T Ruins Apple’s SIM Bid In War On Carrier Choice

The complications mount from there, depending on whether you buy your new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 from a carrier or directly from Apple. Frankly, it’s a confusing mess.

Fortunately, outspoken T-Mobile CEO John Legere has volunteered to clarify things. Legere produced an epic “tweetstorm” over the weekend, firing off no fewer than 21 messages in rapid succession in his own (obviously self-interested) attempt to explain the chaos: 

Apple has remained above the fray so far, which is noteworthy because it used to take a hard line whenever carriers interfered with its plans. Maybe it just doesn’t want to play the heavy.

But it’s also possible that the U.S. was never the real target for its universal SIM anyway. Maybe Apple was never after anyone but business travelers and international users in the first place.

iPad image courtesy of Apple