Nokia's fight with Apple delays decision on nano-SIM standard

Apple's proposal for a new nano-SIM standard and the fierce opposition it has drawn from Nokia at the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) forced the standards body to delay a decision on new SIM card's design.

The meeting, which involved operators, handset developers, SIM card vendors and other industry players, failed to reach an agreement on future standards for SIM cards, and no vote took place. The delay in a decision will last for at least30 days because of the ETSI's rules.

The divide over which direction SIMs should take is split between competing formats for nano-SIM cards. Apple is heavily advocating its more conventional approach, while Nokia is promoting its design which is closely related to a microSD card.

Apple had submitted a nano-SIM proposal that would give the other handset makers royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents for its nano-SIM design, as long as Apple's proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms. Nokia blasted that proposal, though, arguing Apple cannot possibly back it up because it does not hold the necessary intellectual property.

Nokia has the support for Motorola Mobility and Research in Motion. An unnamed Nokia source told BBC News that Apple's offer of allowing royalty-free use of its SIM-related patents was "like offering a bicycle in order to borrow our Mercedes."

Nokia maintains that Apple's nano-SIM proposal must meet key criteria. These include a requirement that the new card cannot be confused with existing SIM cards to avoid consumers mistakenly damaging their handsets by inserting the wrong type of card. Nokia claims that Apple's proposed Nano-SIM is the same length as the current width of the micro-SIM, and therefore fails this requirement, according to BBC News.

Adding further pressure, Nokia said, if Apple's proposal is voted through, it would withhold over 50 patent families it believes are essential to its implementation. "We are not prepared to get into a position where our technology is used to implement a standard that is technologically inferior, and doesn't meet ETSI's own requirements," Mark Durrant, Nokia's director of communications, told BBC News.

But Nokia could have problems with its offer to license patents for its microSD design, according to a Les Echos report. The format might require patents from flash memory providers SanDisk, Toshiba and Panasonic, which have already indicated their caution in granting licences.

For more:
- see this Les Echos article (translated via Google Translate)
- see this The Verge article
- see this IBT article
- see this BBC News article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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