You might recall Financial Times' report that Apple is seeking to get its nano-SIM proposal approved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) over a competing proposal from Nokia, Motorola, and RIM — a battle for the very future of the SIM card. For its part, Nokia isn't taking the effort sitting down, and we've gotten a lengthy statement from a company spokesman this morning.
Apple's proposal does not meet all of the pre-agreed requirements for ETSI's planned 4FF standard (the so-called nano SIM). The proposal from Nokia, RIM and Motorola does.
Nokia believes that our proposal has features which would make it easier for consumers to insert and remove the SIM without damage. Additionally, our proposed SIM has different dimensions from a micro SIM, one of ETSI's requirements, which would avoid it getting stuck if inserted by mistake into a phone with a micro SIM slot. Apple's proposed card is the same length as the width of current micro SIMs and so would risk jamming, leading to card and product damage.
We also feel that our proposal allows for more design options for the type of card reader, i.e. how the SIM is inserted into the device, to allow for a wider range of device form factors. Requiring a tray or SIM carrier would reduce design options and increase manufacturing cost, perhaps not significant for high end smartphones but it would be for lower cost devices.
The combination of our proposed card and the associated mechanics are smaller than those for a current micro SIM, allowing further miniaturization in devices. Though Apple's proposed card is smaller than current micro SIMs, when combined with the associated mechanics needed in the phone, we don't believe it represents a significant reduction in size. We believe that in practice it would mean it was just different from micro SIM, rather than smaller, which could be a barrier to broad adoption as an alternative to micro SIM, potentially leading to fragmentation.
In summary, Nokia believes that our proposed nano SIM would be easier for consumers to handle, enable a wider range of device designs and offer a true difference from the existing options with micro SIM. We look forward to continuing the discussions in more detail with our counterparts in ETSI.
If what Nokia is saying is accurate — and we have every reason to believe it is, since Nokia has access to all of the documentation submitted to ETSI — Nokia's total nano-SIM package (including phone components) is smaller and doesn't require a tray. We'd previously heard from the FT report that Apple's proposal would require a drawer of some sort, and this seems to back that up.
Nokia also says that Apple's proposed card wouldn't meet the ETSI's requirement that there be no chance of accidentally getting a nano-SIM stuck in a micro-SIM slot, whereas its own card design passes that test. The 4FF ("fourth form factor," the technical term for the nano-SIM) is set to be voted on as early as next week, so we'll see how many last-minute power plays both sides are able to make ahead of the meeting.