A new use for the (micro) SIM?

One of the numerous articles from Wired commenting Apple’s new iPad is about its SIM card. Rather than using traditional SIM cards, they will be using a Micro-SIM form factor, which is slightly smaller than a traditional SIM card.

Wired claims that the intention behind the change is to force customers to buy two SIM cards: one for their iPhone, and one for their iPad. That’s an interesting hypothesis, and a possible new use case for SIM cards: use several formats to force customers to have several SIM cards. Of course, the network operators are accused of trying to get customers to get a mobile data subscription for each device they own.

Such a use of a SIM card certainly does not seem to make any good to anybody, and would reflect really short-term thinking from MNOs, and even worse thinking from SIM vendors if they started pushing this as an advantage of the multiple factors. Here are a few good reasons why this idea is bad:

  • First, an iPhone is a phone, and an iPad isn’t. This means that, once you remove your SIM card from your iPhone, you can’t be reached on your mobile number. Unpractical, for the least.
  • Then, an iPad is not as small as an iPhone, and it is much more likely to be used in WiFi than 3G, at least as long as there will not be a pricing plan that makes the use of 3G affordable.
  • The contacts in the Mini-Sim and Micro-SIM are in the same configuration, which means that it is easy to build an adapter from Micro-SIM to Mini-SIM. So, if you have a Micro-SIM, you are able to use it in a device that requires a standard SIM card.

So, this definitely isn’t the killer use case that we are looking for. Locking in final customers, through formats or anything else, does not look like a promising use case for a product, and we should rather think of making these customers’ lives easier.

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