In an interview with AllThingsD, France Telecom/Orange CEO Stephane Richard discussed a smaller SIM card that Apple is developing with their global carriers for future versions of their mobile devices. Besides confirming that carriers, including Orange, are working with Apple on the new initiative, Richard said that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will be smaller and thinner.

Richard’s comment specifically says the “next” iPhone, meaning the fifth-generation iPhone – rumored for a September launch – but we think his comment could simply be an assumption based on the smaller SIM card developments. Another possibility, since we have no time frame on these smaller cards, is that the next iPhone is actually an all new, thinner, smaller design.

Another possibility is that these smaller SIM cards are for the “iPhone nano,” which the Wall Street Journal discussed earlier this year. The device, codenamed N97, is said to be smaller, lighter, cheaper and feature an edge-to-edge display. Smaller SIM cards would be perfect for this device, so perhaps Orange’s CEO just dropped a hint of that.

The person who saw the prototype of the new iPhone said the device was significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch, as well as a virtual keyboard and voice-based navigation

It’s necessary to mention that Richard is the same person who “confirmed” an Apple tablet – with 3G -announcement in late January, but said it would include a webcam. As we all know, the Apple tablet only got a webcam two months ago with the iPad 2.

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