The European Telecommunications Standards Institute, ETSI, was due to vote on Friday over which standard to adopt for the nano-SIM card — the smaller, next generation chip that is likely to become the norm in mobiles over the coming years.
Adopting an even smaller card will allow manufacturers to make thinner handsets, store different sorts of information or use the space for larger batteries or other technology — and at a meeting this week ETSI’s members were faced with a choice between two competing ideas — one backed by Apple (s AAPL), and the other supported by Nokia(s NOK) and RIM(s RIMM).
Both sides had been lobbying hard to get their standard adopted: Apple suggested that it would offer the technology royalty free to carriers, but Nokia responded angrily by saying it would not license its applicable patents if that happened.
It quickly became a vicious battle, with control over the future of mobile at stake — particularly given that Apple is thought to be considering embeddable SIM cards that would eventually allow it to sidestep carriers and other parts of the mobile industry.
In the end, the clash appears to have been too hot for ETSI to handle, as the organization eventually decided that it was better to postpone the vote since there was a clear failure to reach an accord. ETSI rules suggest it will be at least 30 days until a vote can be held — so expect to see both sides going at each other over the next month as they try to politick their way to success.