Nokia Threatens to Take Toys Home in Apple SIM Fight

| Analysis

The claws are out in Nokia’s fight with Apple over a new standard for the so-called nano-SIM card for smartphones. The two companies are championing competing proposals for a next-generation smaller SIM standard, and Nokia has threatened the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) to take its technology toys home if that body chooses Apple’s proposal over the one being championed by Nokia, Research In Motion (RIM), and Motorola Mobility.

I Will Take My Toys and Go Home!

Understanding the Fight

The battle between the tech giants is an interesting one. On the one hand, Nokia, RIM, and Apple have all proposed different solutions for the 4FF standard in Europe. This standard is also referred to as a nano-SIM card, as it is for a smaller SIM card that will give smartphone makers that much more room for components in their devices.

While Nokia, RIM, and Moto are all backing Nokia’s proposal, Apple has lined up several major European carriers. At stake is not only what form the nano-SIM card takes, but also whose patents are involved, and this is likely where the key battle truly lies. Patents included in a standard are subject to fair, reasonable, and non discriminatory (FRAND) royalty licensing terms, but this normally still adds up to real money for the patent holders.

Play to Your Strengths…

As part of its pitch, Apple said earlier this week that it would contribute its relevant patents royalty free, a really tempting offer to anyone who might be using this standard. The caveat is that Apple will do so only if all other contributing patent holders do the same thing.

That’s an issue that plays to Apple’s strengths in a way that could probably be better described as a sucker punch to the competition. Apple makes its money from the sale of hardware, and the company has heretofore showed little interest in licensing out its intellectual property to other companies.

Nokia, Moto, and Samsung, however, all make steady money by licensing their patents to other companies, and by having some of those patents included in all manner of standards. Apple is essentially trying to shift this particular standards fight to a playground where Apple rules with an iron first—hardware profits.

For instance, Apple reportedly earned 80 percent of all mobile hardware profits on the planet during the December quarter of 2011. Apple isn’t worried about earning money from licensing its patents, it wants a SIM card that gives it the most flexibility when designing that hardware. If it can get that without paying anyone else for their patents, so much the better.

Furthermore, Apple has stacked the deck in ETSI by registering is European subsidiary companies as individual members, each of whom gets a number of votes in the standards-setting process. According (subscription required) to The Financial Times of London, Apple currently has 183 votes, “roughly double” the number of votes that Nokia has.

…Or Complain

Nokia is displeased with this particular maneuver and has accused Apple of circumventing the selection process. Of course, Nokia does have its own dog in this fight, as noted above, and there’s little reason for the company to be happy about going from being the world’s most important cellphone maker to Apple and Google being the big boys on the block.

Which brings us to Wednesday’s news, when Nokia literally threatened to take its toys home if ETSI chose Apple’s standard. The Finnish company said that it would not contribute any of its 50-some patents it says are needed for Apple’s proposed standard if that standard is picked.

In a statement published by The Verge, Nokia is accusing Apple of not playing by the rules and ETSI itself of not abiding by its own rules. The company also said that Apple’s standard, “does not meet ETSI’s technical requirements and which would be inferior for consumers and the mobile industry, unnecessarily increasing the cost of mobile devices.”

“We believe that Apple is misusing the standardization process, seeking to impose its own proprietary solution on the industry and using ETSI merely to rubber stamp its proposal, rather than following established principles and practices,” Henry Tirri, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Nokia, said in the statement. “We urge ETSI members to resist this behaviour, which is not in the best interests of the industry or, more importantly, of consumers.”

The company further added that the proposal being backed by itself, RIM, and Moto does meet the technical requirements of the standard, and that Apple doesn’t have relevant patents anyway, so there.

To Win By Any Other Name Is Just As Sweet

Petulant threat or savvy negotiating tactic, this is a serious threat that could result in a years-long delay in developing a new, smaller SIM card standard. With Apple and its competitors looking to squeeze every square millimeter they can out of smartphone design, such a delay hurts everyone and benefits no one.

It may, however, get Nokia what it wants.

Popular TMO Stories



Typical Apple behavior.

They brought/forced SCSI to the market.

They brought/forced USB to the market.

They brought/forced FireWire to the market.

They brought/forced WiFi to the market.

They’re doing it again. SO WHAT?

As a CONSUMER if technology I really don’t care what Nokia/RIM and Moto’s objections are.


To whom it may concern at Nokia:

Apple has enough cash ON HAND to buy your entire company four times over. Your stock is just over $5 a piece. Apple’s is $600+.

In other words, take your toys and go flush them down the toilet. Or, play ball, get a piece of the pie, and stay in the game. The choice is yours. But don’t wait too long or you will suffer the same fate as Kodak.



The Consumers


?We believe that Apple is misusing the standardization process, seeking to impose its own proprietary solution on the industry and using ETSI merely to rubber stamp its proposal, rather than following established principles and practices,?

With no evidence provided, whatsoever, this can be considered nothing but rhetoric.


Typical Apple behavior.

They brought/forced SCSI to the market.

They brought/forced USB to the market.

They brought/forced FireWire to the market.

They brought/forced WiFi to the market.

They?re doing it again. SO WHAT?

When those technologies were coming to market Apple was in no position to “force” anything. And since only one of these examples (Firewire) was developed by Apple, I fail to see the correlation.


dummy spit!

Typical of a company that knows it’s days are numbered.

“Hasta la vista, baby”


Nokia is going to win this war.  Very soon, the most beautiful Lumia 900 will kill stupid looking iphone.  Why stupid iphone? Coz it is useless, it’s baterry sucks.


I was considering the new Windows Nokia phone. Not anymore, and I believe I will Not be the only one.


Not everyone wants a tray to hold their Sim cards. If that were to happen every phone maker would have to change their hardware to Apple’s standard. Apple was already allowed to use their own style Chargers for their devices now they want everyone to use their hardware? The only people who would even think this is the right way to go are Apple fan boys.


Why do we still need a physical SIM card?  Isn’t this the way of the CD?  Why not head directly and go for soft sims?  Less mess, no need to visit the telco store anymore, easier online activations.  I cannot see why a physical SIM is still required?


“no need to visit the telco store anymore, easier online activations.”

You answered your own question.


Phone makers are constantly redesigning their hardware. This would not be an issue for them. It appears that Apple’s design would give them more room to add other features, not less. Apple is not the only manufacturer to have their own charger connector design, so that is a pointless argument.

Good luck with that. Your post doesn’t even make much sense. Stupid looking because the battery sucks? Really?  Please troll elsewhere.


Nokia is going to win this war.? Very soon, the most beautiful Lumia 900 will kill stupid looking iphone.? Why stupid iphone? Coz it is useless, it?s baterry sucks.

Well, now we know what a typical Nokia Windows phone customer sounds like. Thanks.


Any complaint from Nokia that something isn’t good for the consumer is automatically suspect, especially when it’s being made about a company like Apple, whose products sell extraordinarily well because Apple goes out of its way to be more consumer-friendly rather than cede control to carriers or content providers.


I hate iphone coz these as*h*ls at apple created something that doesn’t work well.  My wife has iphone 4, she got it in oct. 2010, in 18 months, it’s baterry has gone bad.  Baterry suddenly dies. 

Lumia 900 is gonna crush iphone.  LOL
Good luck apple fans.
Oh don’t tell me that apple has 100 million apps for iphone, coz an average smartphone user has only 30 to 40 apps on their phones, and WP 7, and android have those good quality apps.  wink



Well there’s your problem!

Have you tried a battery ? They work a lot better than a “baterry”

A Troll a day keeps life interesting…


Ahhh, yet another internet denizen that has no clue how Lithium Polymer batteries work.

Trolling: It’s not just for fishing anymore…


There is something else at play here, namely the display of two divergent corporate cultures.

The one, apparently, resting on its being of European origin, and therefore practically entitled by birthright to provide the 4FF standards that ETSI should adopt (plus they have a Canadian and even a Yank company behind them), and the other ruthlessly and relentlessly competitive, and doing everything in its power to tip the balance in its favour, and thereby disrupt a long-standing, and progressively irrelevant, tech dynasty.

Personally, when it comes to consumer products, I like ruthlessly and relentlessly competitive.


@ furbies and all iphone fans


You got my message, that iphone has 3rd class batteries.  smile

I can see smoke coming from your As*.  LOL

Lumia 900 is ready to crush iphone.  wink


I’m not sure I understand. If patents which are part of an industry standard are subject to FRAND, and if Apple’s standard proposal is chosen, and if Nokia has “50-some patents it says are needed for Apple?s proposed standard”, how can they refuse?  Doesn’t FRAND say they have to license them, fairly priced and w/o discrimination?


Isn’t it sad how some have lives so hopelessly pathetic they feel the need to get their jollies through trolling special interest sites with mindless drivel?


I’m failing to see how any of the tactics/arguments posed by Apple or Nokia are a change from normal business practices. There does seem to be more efforts in the public forum this time around, but I suspect that’s simply the hunger for news of anything involving Apple.

That being said, I’m trusting that the ETSI as a whole will do what they feel is best. Most standards organizations know how to read through the politics.


I?m trusting that the ETSI as a whole will do what they feel is best.

A European group doing what’s best ?

Sorry, but based on recent news events that’s a bit of an oxymoron these days….


ooooh a nit !

“horse in this race”
“dog in this fight”

not horse in this fight, nor dog in this race…..



Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account