Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is leading a charge against rival smartphone makers Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) over specifications for the so-called "nano-SIM," the next generation of smaller SIM cards for smartphones, according to a Financial Times report.
Apple submitted a request to European Telecommunications Standards Institute in May 2011 to standardize the nano-SIM design, which would allow companies to free up more internal space in devices for other functions. According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, the ETSI is set to vote on nano-SIM proposals next week, and Apple's proposal has the backing of "most" European carriers.
The report noted that all handset makers could license whatever design wins, but the other handset vendors are worried that Apple could eventually hold all of the patents for nano-SIM cards. Apple's proposals would require a "drawer" inside the device for the nano-SIM, which could require handsets to be reconfigured. "Phones would need to be re-engineered with this in mind," one source told the FT.
What makes the tussle even more interesting is that, according to the report, Apple has engaged in attempts to boost the number of votes it has in the ETSI by registering six European subsidiaries to become full members. Nokia, which has the most votes in the standards body, has questioned the move.
Last year AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) CEO Ralph de la Vega said that making the SIM card smaller "is a no-brainer" and he believes that it will happen. France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard made similar comments as well, and said that the European telco was working with Apple on standardizing a smaller SIM card that balances operators' needs for security and authentication with Apple's desire to free up more internal space in the iPhone.
- see this FT article (reg. req.)
- see this The Verge article
AT&T's de la Vega says making a smaller SIM card is a 'no brainer'
France Telecom Orange wrestles Apple over e-SIMs, App Store
Apple seeks to shrink size of micro-SIM card