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New Apple Nano-SIM, What is it All About?

Normally you really don't care about the size of the SIM in your smartphone or tablet, but it is doubtful that you missed the entire buzz about the new Apple Nano-SIM. What is it all about and why are they fighting about something like a tiny SIM-card. We gathered all the facts for you.

Basically the fight is between Apple and the rest of the phone making business. The stakes are high and it is all about control and money. Several manufacturers developed their own proper standards and each one of them thinks their version is the best.

What is a SIM card?

A SIM-card (Subscriber Identity Module) is the little plastic smart card that is inserted in your smartphone or tablet. The SIM-card is the access to your provider. It stores your service account information so the smartphone or tablet knows how it should work with the network and what levels of service you have. Other information stored on the card are your telephone number, your contacts, history and messages.

History of SIM

The history of the SIM card goes back to 1982 when the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunication Administration (CEPT) developed a mobile phone standard. This particular standard has become the base of what we now know as GSM. As a part of this standard, a SIM card was introduced to store all the info to authenticate users of GSM mobile networks, and to ensure the portability of that information. Users can take the existing card out of their phone, and insert it in another one without having to register the specific device. Of course, the role of the SIM card evolved over the years to become the tiny card, as we know it now.

Evolution of the different Form Factors of the SIM Card

While the basics of the SIM card stays the same, the form factor changed over time. The second Form Factor (2FF) was introduced in 1989 and is in fact the big, old SIM-card as most of you still can remember. The third Form Factor (3FF) is the micro-SIM as most of us use now. And today’s fight is all about the next generation of the SIM Card, the new Nano-SIM (4FF).

New Apple Nano-SIM aka 4FF

There are 3 manufacturers who issued a proposition for the new standard and form-factor: Nokia, RIM and Apple. The differences are mostly in the fact that the designs from Nokia and RIM are more unconventional and resemble micro SD Cards (3FF) that meant to be used as stand-alone cards. The proposition of Apple requires the use of a card-tray.

Apple Nano-SIMNokia and RIM nano-SIM

Apple is pushing the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) to adopt their new Nano-SIM as the next industry standard. Good initiative, so what is the problem? Competitors like Nokia, Motorola and RIM (BlackBerry) are worried that Apple is going to be in a position to claim patents on the new Form Factor, if it is adopted by the ETSI as the new European Standard. Apple is doing everything it can to skew the voting process within the board. Recently Apple applied 6 more subsidiaries for membership in the council. If Apple succeeds with that, Nokia wouldn’t be the largest voting member anymore.

Royalty-Free Licensing

Being a big player in smartphone market, Apple is confronted with huge resistance against his proposition. The competitors are concerned about the ownership of the patents. Apple could subsequently charge royalties for the use of the card. But yesterday morning, Apple made a remarkable move to ease everyone down. The Cupertino Company pledged that it would allow royalty-free licensing if all competitors adopt the Apple standard.

Nokia already reacted that this is ‘no more than an attempt to devalue the intellectual property of others’. A spokesman of Nokia told also that the company is unaware of any essential patents that Apple holds for this proposal. The voting for the new Apple Nano-SIM is next Thursday, march 29 2012. [Images via The Verge]

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    Liamoneill994 years, 7 months ago

    March 29th is a thursday…