Apple wants smaller SIM cards for thinner gadgets

18 May 2011
iPad 2

Apple has proposed a new standard to make SIM cards even smaller than they are now

Apple is looking to take SIM cards even smaller than the micro SIM it uses in the iPad and iPhone 4.

The tech giant has proposed a smaller standardised SIM card so it can make even thinner devices, an Orange executive said.

The move by Apple to work with operators is symptomatic of warming relations as Apple depends on mobile operator subsidies to help it maintain high volumes of iPhone sales.

It's certainly showing that they're willing to work with the standardisation bodies and with the operators, which we welcome

A spokesman for the European telecoms standards body (ETSI) confirmed Apple had made the proposal for the new standard for SIM cards, but decision on starting the standardisation work was not yet made.

"This process may take some time, up to a year or more, if there is strong disagreement between industry players. However, when there is broad consensus among the companies participating in the standards committee, the process can be accelerated to a number of months," he said.

Mobile backing

Orange said it, and other operators, welcomed the move.

"We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor - smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad," said Anne Bouverot, Orange's head of mobile services.

"They have done that through the standardisation route, through ETSI, with the sponsorship of some major mobile operators, Orange being one of them," she told the Paris leg of the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

Bouverot said: "As long as it supports the requirements that we have for the SIM card, which is a very important asset for operators, which we absolutely want to continue to support, then we're happy that this is a development."

"It's certainly showing that they're willing to work with the standardisation bodies and with the operators, which we welcome," Bouverot added. "We're discussing how to improve our relationship."

She said first devices using such SIM cards could come out next year. If the smaller SIMs become standardised, other phone makers are also likely to adopt them.

"At some point other vendors will follow as size and weight will be crucial for smartphones," said analyst Francisco Jeronimo of research firm IDC.

Apple was not immediately available for comment.

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