The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has decided to postpone a vote on the specification for the new nano-SIM after a row erupted between Apple and the backers of a competing proposal - Nokia, Research In Motion (RIM) and Motorola Mobility.

ETSI is working on a standard for a new, smaller SIM card, dubbed nano-SIM (or 4FF for the fourth form factor, which is the official name).

A committee met this week to vote on the proposals but, in the end, the differences between the two camps turned out to be too big, and ETSI decided not to hold the vote. It will now be at least 30 days before it can be rescheduled because ETSI rules require 30 days' notice of such votes, according to a spokesman at Giesecke & Devrient, which makes SIM cards.

The failure to reach a conclusion at this point shouldn't come as a surprise, as the lead-up to the meeting was contentious.

Both RIM and Nokia have tried their best to cast doubt on Apple's efforts. Earlier this week, RIM sent a letter to ETSI complaining about Apple employees registering for the meeting representing a completely different company. But voting by proxy during a technical body meeting is not allowed, according to RIM.

Nokia, for its part, accused Apple of misusing the standardisation process and said that it wouldn't licence essential patents related to Apple's proposal if that proposal won.

Despite the conflict, the Giesecke & Devrient spokesman said it is worth the effort to develop a new SIM format. When the nano-SIM card eventually becomes standardised, its smaller size will free up room inside phones for additional memory and larger batteries, helping phone vendors create thinner devices, he said.