Apple pushing for smaller SIM card standard with Orange's backing

An Orange executive told Reuters that Apple has proposed a standardized SIM card that is smaller than those currently found in the iPad and iPhone 4. Apple says the design would allow the company to produce thinner mobile devices.

Orange's head of mobile services, Anne Bouverot, told Reuters that "We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor -- smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad. They have done that through the standardization route, through ETSI, with the sponsorship of some major mobile operators, Orange being one of them."

Of course, the finalization of Apple's proposed new SIM standard needs to be worked out, but Bouverot says devices with the new SIMs could hit the market as early as next year. This isn't the first time Apple has been rumored to progress SIM technology. Last October, a rumor emerged that Apple was working with security firm Gemalto, a SIM card manufacturer, to create a software-reconfigurable SIM that would be directly integrated into future European iPhones. The iPhone would then be activated on the user's carrier of choice by downloading a carrier-specific app from the App Store.

Apple has also taken interest in shrinking other common devices so that it could continually thin its mobile and handheld offerings. In September, an Apple patent emerged that described smaller audio jacks that could be used in future, thinner iPods. If you look at the iPod nano, for example, its current width is almost entirely dictated by the standard audio jack receptor. The SIM news is a sign that Apple is keenly aware that if it's going to continue making thinner and thinner devices, standardized pieces of hardware -- such as SIM cards and audio jacks -- will need to be redesigned.