Blog Post

Meet the iPad’s Micro SIM

The Apple (s aapl) iPad isn’t even out yet, but already thousands of words have been written about its influence on hardware, media, computing and even ergonomics. It has a new chip, a new contract-free pricing plan from AT&T (s T) and a new SIM in order to get onto the carrier network. Since I was curious about the new micro SIM format, I visited the offices of Gemalto, which sold about 1 billion SIM cards last year, to learn more about it.

Ray Wizbowski, a marketing director with Gemalto, showed off the micro SIM format for me and explained how it contains exactly the same hardware as a traditional SIM card, just in a smaller plastic casing. Theoretically you could cut your existing SIM down to size, although your contacts would have to match up. Wizbowski says the smaller casing makes room for more hardware inside a device like the iPad, but it also provides a smaller platform (52 percent smaller) for carrier advertising. Did Apple go smaller in order to cram in more functionality or to marginalize AT&T?

As far as the current use of micro SIMs, there’s a company called Loc8 Solutions that uses a micro SIM keyed for tracking children, and Wizbowski says they might also be used in cell phone wrist watches or cameras connected to a wireless network. The SIM is based on a standard so other companies can make them as well. For more on micro SIMS and machine-to-machine connectivity, check out the video below.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

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19 Responses to “Meet the iPad’s Micro SIM”

  1. Bradley

    Guys, there is a way to use microSIM card in every mobile phone, and not only in the Iphone 4 or Ipad! I heard there is a thing called micro sim adapter. Basically, you put your microSIM card inside it and use it in any phone. I googlesearched it and found it here: They say it costs 4.5 EUR. They also seem to offer the sticker guide to cut the regular simcard into the microsim. IMHO their price and quality is the best so far.

  2. Walt French

    “Did Apple go smaller in order to cram in more functionality or to marginalize AT&T?”

    Prolly, neither. While it’s not unusual for Apple to pioneer new form factors — think 3.5″ floppies or the iPhone dock — it has a nice side effect of creating a zone of uniqueness so they can charge more than if everybody else did the same thing. Here, it looks especially good that T-Mo data subscribers won’t simply pop their cellphone’s chip into the slot and deprive AT&T of the data revenue.

  3. “but it also provides a smaller platform (52 percent smaller) for carrier advertising. “

    How many US mobile consumers have ever even seen their SIM card or even know it exists?

  4. Handsome Stranger

    Great interview Ms. H, you are awesome.

    I didn’t know that GSM SIM cards are based on the old Smart Card technology. The local university here uses the 1FF (a full smart card) in their laundromat in all the Washers and Dryers (NO CASH).

    BTW, I helped convert the U.S. Army to Smart Card payment system for all new recruits when they first join the Army. They used to get paid in CA$H, but we moved them to 1FF cards back in the mid ninties to eliminate their cash payment problems. So yeah this is very old technology but is still in wide use today.

  5. The bigger story here for me is again how Apple forces the rest of the market to adapt to their hardware decisions AND that we most likely don’t have any other micro SIM devices that we’d be able to swap the iPad SIM into. Potentially saving AT&T some money/bandwidth.

  6. i absolutely want this prepaid $30/month data only option for use in my GSM phones. it is time that we be able to ‘pick any plan’ and put it in ‘any device’ and have it work.

    this thing about plans linked to specific devices really really stinks bad.

    this makes a mockery of the whole concept of SIM cards versus programmed phones.

    the time has come for the full force of the carterphone laws to be moved to the mobile world.