updated 11:29 am EDT, Fri June 1, 2012
Proposal survives objections by RIM, Nokia
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute has approved the use of an Apple design for the new nano-SIM standard for cellphones. Although Apple isn't credited by name, the dimensions of the accepted card -- 12.3x8.8x0.67mm -- match the company's submission. The design is about 40 percent smaller than any current SIM, and can be made backwards compatible if necessary.
It's unclear if the design includes a notch proposed by RIM and Motorola (see diagram) which would allow nano-SIM slots to work without a tray. It's also uncertain if Nokia will carry through on a once-promised threat to refuse to license its SIM patents if ETSI went with Apple; while Apple has promised royalty-free licensing of its nano-SIM technology, Nokia has suggested it's an "attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others." Motorola and RIM have also expressed worries about the possibility of Apple owning nano-SIM patents.
The standard is following relatively quickly on the heels of micro-SIM, which debuted in 2010 with the iPhone 4. Apple has a vested in shrinking the size of SIM cards, since it regularly tries to make its devices thinner while simultaneously improving their performance. Smaller SIM slots should allow other parts to be become bigger as necessary.