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Devices/smartphones

Lights, Camera, Lockdown?

There has been a big splash over the last couple of weeks about the new, less expensive "prosumer" phones coming out from manufacturers such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and BlackBerry . But the business end of the "prosumer" user equation could require a little convincing before they buy, however, especially since some of the features that make these new gadgets attractive to the general public are a turn-off to hardcore corporate users.

Case in point: the legal profession, whose members have been among the earliest adopters of new wireless devices from RIM and Palm Inc. The camera phones installed in the new breed of devices, however, could be a problem for users who want to bring them into court.

Stephen Taylor, IS Manager at Denver-based law firm Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons LLP, says that the new BlackBerry Pearl "looks really nice" and that the $200 price "sure would be good" -- but he believes the camera phone would be an issue for his end users.

"Some courts will not allow cameras or cellphones with cameras in the courtroom," he says. "Our attorneys like taking their BlackBerry devices into courtrooms when possible, but they may not be allowed to do so with the BlackBerry Pearl because of the camera feature. So I think that alone would keep us from jumping at them, even with the lower price point."

The consumer functions, such as the cameraphone, on the Pearl can actually be disabled via the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). It could, however, be more than a little tricky to persuade a security guard checking your bag at a major courtroom in the U.S. that this cameraphone is different from the others they've seen during court proceedings.

And, of course, the cameraphone conundrum doesn't just apply to the BlackBerry but also to the Motorola Q and the many other new smartphones on the market.

Roger Cass, CTO at Cincinnati-based healthcare firm MediSync, notes that technical concerns are not the only thing that is stopping corporate users from dashing out and getting a sweet new gadget.

"I haven't heard of any of our associates scrambling for one of these yet," he tells Unstrung. "Perhaps the word has not gotten around to them, or they don't care. Since the company pays for their phones, there is probably an 'I can't ask for that' block." — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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