Apple at odds with Nokia, RIM, Motorola over nano-SIM standard

By on March 21, 2012, 4:00 PM

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is scheduled to take a vote on the nano-SIM standard next week. The proposed designs -- one backed by Apple and the other by Nokia, RIM and Motorola Mobility -- will allow smartphone vendors to build even smaller devices as the size of SIM cards is cut by a third compared to the current microSIM standard used on the iPhone and a few Android phones.

Apparently there's some friction over which design represents the best alternative, however. On one side Apple is pushing for a version that will require a tray to hold the card, a design element already present on both the iPhone and iPad, whereas the competing design led by Nokia is said to have "significant technical advantages."

Whichever way the decision goes the SIM design would be licensed to any organization that wants to use it. If there are patent claims essential to implement the nano-SIM standard, ETSI would request that they be licensed under so-called fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. That said, there's no way of guaranteeing the licensing process would go smoothly; currently both Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics are using standard-essential patents in their respective legal battles with Apple.

Another point of contention is that whichever side loses would have to redesign upcoming handsets to accommodate the winning nano-SIM design -- though realistically either option will require design tweaks.

It's being reported that "most" European carriers have sided with Apple, but nevertheless Nokia controls a majority of votes in the ETSI's chambers with a total of 92. Meanwhile, the Cupertino-based giant is trying to significantly increase it voting power before next week's ETSI meeting by registering six different European subsidiaries as voting bodies, each of which can have as many as 45 votes.

Regardless of which side wins, the end result should be slimmer devices for consumers, hopefully not at the expense of convenience with a design that makes switching SIM cards troublesome.

iPhone 4S SIM card removal image via iFixit.




User Comments: 5

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

Apple, apple, apple... Will you ever learn?

MrAnderson said:

Unfortunately, it is not always the best design that wins... as a tech person I'd hope for a balance between cost and improvement over the older technology it hopes to replace.

Yup Apple is throwing its weight around. I just hope it is in the best interest in the people that are giving up their money and not a posturing battle of the Titians where the customer loses in the long run.

Guest said:

What do you want apple to learn. Apple so far been the best at anything. People worship apple. Look at the line in stores when apple releases something. Do you think you will have the same line when win 8 crap comes out? At best buy perhaps?

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Guest said:

What do you want apple to learn. Apple so far been the best at anything. People worship apple. Look at the line in stores when apple releases something. Do you think you will have the same line when win 8 crap comes out? At best buy perhaps?

Well, as a Guest I declare your opinions as BS.

Otherwise apple is too used to getting their way, and it's not always good. Looking at articles it seems that they are being pissy about the issue and are trying to shoehorn their way. For those reasons alone I am fully against apple winning.

Guest said:

Apple has become one of the most litigous corps around. For that reason alone, I hope they lose. Aside from that, may the best design win.

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