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Secure Transactions News

Apple puts forth plans for smaller SIM

Thursday 26 May 2011

Apple called to start standardization working group for specifying a new form factor for the UICC/SIM/USIM - 4th UICC Form Factor (4FF), a smaller than 3FF micro-SIM that is already in use for its iPads and iPhone 4 (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #10-11).

Meanwhile, the company’s initiative was followed by a MNOs’ unexpected move, when Anne Bouverot, Orange’s head of mobile services, commented that Orange as well as other MNOs, is backing this initiative. The move that is somewhere unexpected, from the other side is a support of Apple’s compromise with the operators who are opposing to IT company’s suspected intention to embed the SIM card into handsets.

Initially, according to the information by the grapevine, Apple was interested in the embedded SIM cards, a software-based secure element, which would likely allow Apple to manage customers’ MNO subscriptions on an iTunes-like shop base, thus reducing the operators’ control over a vital component within their subscriber management.

Reportedly, Apple has been already cooperating with SIM card manufacturer Gemalto to create a SIM card that was actually embedded into devices and would allow users to pick their carrier from the device without having to swap cards, and saving space within the design (cf. SIW #10-47). Apple was planning to abandon its carrier-agnostic iPhone SIM card strategy, hoping to move from its exclusive partnerships with carriers in every country to a non-exclusive approach using a programmable SIM card.

Right after these rumors, SIMalliance responded with a list of key benefits of a user removable (U)SIM card in Mobile Communications, as the use of the embedded one would change dramatically the business model of the industry (cf. SIW 10-47).