The head of Orange's parent company France Telecom, Stéphane Richard, gave clues in an interview Monday as to the design of the next iPhone. He confirmed once more that Orange was working with Apple on smaller SIM cards and asserted to AllThingsD that it was for the "next iPhone," hinting that the results could show up later this year. The smaller card would help Apple get its design down in thickness and overall size.
"I understood that the next iPhone would be smaller and thinner and they are definitely seeking some space," Richard said.
Assuming the executive was referring to a 2011 update and not 2012, it would support notions of a significant redesign for the iPhone instead of the gradual upgrade rumored by others.
Richard also acknowledged the widely rumored but until now unconfirmed fight over embedded SIMs, although he recast it as a friendlier negotiation. Carriers had warned that embedded was a "bad idea" since it was vital to authentication and would make it hard to take care of the customer process, but Apple had come to a balance. The two had a "very constructive exchange," the CEO said.
In tandem with the focus on Apple, the CEO had comments on other platforms and network loads. He hoped Nokia's use of Windows Phone would put it back into contention and make sure there were "at least three or four" viable platforms, though he saw it as a difficult road. RIM's decline in BlackBerry sales was mostly a North American phenomenon and hadn't been seen in Europe because of the "community of people" that stayed loyal.
He was complimentary to Android, although he was hopeful Google wouldn't use OS releases to push carriers or OEMs and didn't want it to get too large a share. The commentary was also an opportunity for a dig at RIM, noting that Orange "have regularly problems [sic]" with BlackBerrys where Android and iPhone are smooth.
On networks, he still saw an "unbalance" and suggested that phone makers should pay for bandwidth, allegedly because of the stiff load from increasing smartphone use. He didn't necessarily object to net neutrality, though, and would prefer that Apple be consistent with the concept by exerting less sway over what apps are on the phone. Orange also wanted to preload carrier apps like it could on Android, although customers have typically resisted these moves.