updated 01:50 pm EDT, Tue May 17, 2011
Apple proposes very small SIM card standard
French carrier Orange on Tuesday revealed that Apple had put forward a new standard for SIM cards that would even smaller than the micro SIMs in the iPhone 4 and all iPads. Mobile services lead Anne Bouverot said Apple had suggested it to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) with the endorsement of Orange and other, carriers unnamed in a speech at a Reuters summit. The first phones and tablets based on the format could arrive sometime in 2012.
Apple was one of the key drivers behind micro SIMs and is still the primary supporter. The format, however, is relatively limited and is really just a regular SIM chip with less of the strictly cosmetic card area cut down to save space. The core technology has remained largely unchanged since GSM entered service in earnest during the early-to-mid 1990s.
A smaller SIM would let Apple, and other manufacturers, fit more components inside the usually cramped spaces of a smartphone and sometimes tablets. The standard would thus be self-serving as it would help Apple add more storage, a larger battery, or other extras without affecting the shape.
Talk of an even smaller SIM could immediately quash rumors of an embedded SIM in future iPhones and other devices. The approach had supposedly been proposed by Apple last year but met with resistance from carriers. Many are trying to slow down the commoditization of cellular service and want customers to still get a SIM from the store or online to start the relationship between the carrier and the subscriber.