Apple Takes On Motorola, Nokia, RIM Over Nano-SIM Spec

Posted by at 9:25 am on March 21, 2012

Apple’s proposed extra-small SIM card standard has triggered a war it’s currently likely to win, sources uncovered Tuesday. The format, nicknamed a “nano-SIM” by the FT in its purported leak, was opposed by proposals from Motorola, Nokia, and RIM. All of them were hoping to get approval from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and make their individual format the definitive standard.

The Apple method would require a protective drawer, likely similar to the tray for a micro-SIM, an unnamed source understood. The method could make some companies rework their designs if they were either using a barebones reader, as many do today, or a special slot like on the newer Motorola RAZR. It’s not known what others were proposing. Nokia believes its version has “significant technical advantages,” but what these were wasn’t stated.

Apple is already thought to have the support of carriers after having dropped its embedded SIM idea and may have added sway with the ETSI through that reason. It may, however, be hoping to further improve its odds by increasing its stake in ETSI itself. The American firm has reportedly registered six of its European branches as ETSI members, which would give it a large amount of votes and help it approve its own standard.

The practice is legal under ETSI rules. Nokia has questioned “whether it is right” that a company can use the tactic. However, it has its own vested interest in denying Apple an added position. As the current largest voter with 92 votes, it could steer more towards its own format. ETSI voting power might also become useful to prevent companies like Motorola and Samsung from trying to use standards-based patents for lawsuits in the future.

Apple has been instrumental in driving smaller SIM cards. The micro-SIM showed first in the iPhone 4 and mostly worked by cutting a large amount of the unused space on a regular SIM without changing technology. Nano-SIMs wouldn’t have that backwards compatibility, but they would save even more space for chipsets and battery.

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