In a wide ranging interview with All Things D, France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard discussed a host of issues relating to the mobile market and Apple’s role in spearheading the smartphone revolution.
“They just created smartphones with the iPhone,” Richard bluntly explained. “Everybody should be grateful to them to have put such a product in our market.”
Richard also relayed that Apple has been working steadily over the past few years to develop smaller SIM cards, and had even toyed around with creating a device without any SIM card at all, an initiative Richard referred to as the e-SIM project.
All of us told them it was a bad idea because the SIM card is a critical piece of the security and authentication process. It would be very difficult for a telco or carrier to manage the customer relationship. I think that they understood this point. We had a very constructive exchange and dialogue with them.
We are going to work with them in order to standardize a new format of SIM which takes into accout our needs with security and authentication and also is compatible with their wishes in terms of size.
Next, Richard explained that Apple’s preoccupation with smaller SIM cards is because the next iPhone would be both smaller and thinner and freeing up space of utmost importance.
Previous iPhone 5 rumors, however, have almost unanimously suggested that the next-gen iPhone will sport the same form factor as the iPhone 4. So Richard’s claim that the next iPhone model will be both smaller and thinner is a tad curious. Still, it’s worth noting a recent report which relayed that the next-gen iPhone would come with a curved screen akin to Google’s Nexus S smartphone.
Doubling back around, Richard has previously made erroneous predictions regarding the iPad, so it’d be prudent to take his statements of speculation with a grain of salt.
Now as for Apple’s insistence on maintaining complete control over its platform, Richard isn’t entirely enthused.
So far, we have been able to come to solutions with Apple people, even though they are a little tough. We are able to find solutions. We are not at war with the Apple guys. But it is true that it can be tough.
Of course Ideally we would like to have those services embedded natively in the handset which is what we do with Android-based devices like with Samsung or HTC or people like that. It is not possible with Apple. We still are in a position to bring those apps to our customers through the app stores, provided clearly we have access to the App Store.
The problem is the day when Apple says “I don’t want this one.”
And so the beat of the iPhone rumor drum plays on.