Apple wants the SIM card of the future to be smaller - even than the micro-SIM cards used in the iPhone 4 and iPad - to enable the creation of thinner mobile devices.

Reuters reports that an executive at network operator Orange revealed Apple's plans for smaller SIMs and said that the company would be supporting Apple's proposal.

The report confirms that Apple has made a proposal for the new standard for SIM cards to European telecoms standards body ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), though the process of creating the standard could take more than a year.

"However, when there is broad consensus among the companies participating in the standards committee, the process can be accelerated to a number of months," an ETSI spokesman told Reuters.

Orange said that it would back Apple's proposals. "We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor - smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad," Anne Bouverot, Orange's head of mobile services, said.

Other network operators have yet to comment publicly, though other handset manufacturers are likely to be tempted by the idea as well, as samller SIMs could enable them to design thinner, more innovative handsets.

Earlier this month, researchers at Canada's Queen's University of Ontario revealed the PaperPhone, a prototype mobile handset as thin as a piece of paper.

The Paperphone can take calls, play music and act as an e-reader, with various functions activated by twisting, folding or tweaking the device itself.