Enterprise Customers Leading Camera Phone Resistance
By Carlo Longino, Tue Nov 04 21:00:00 GMT 2003

Evidently a lot of companies aren't too happy about the rise of camera phones. While corporate security is no doubt a worthwhile cause, some are going so far as to tell carriers they want advanced phones with either the cameras disabled or taken out completely. And carriers are listening.

The eWeek article (thanks for the link, Alan Reiter) cites a Verizon Wireless exec who says half of the Fortune 500 CIOs she regularly consults about upcoming handsets have said they wouldn't sanction handsets featuring a camera. Verizon is acting on these comments, too, having already worked with Samsung to sell a model of their i700 phone with a disabled camera. Rival carrier Sprint is also reportedly in talks with Handspring to deliver a camera-less version of its Treo 600 device as well.

The Verizon exec admits that it was something of a surprise that these companies would make so much noise, and that the carrier assumed the high-end handset market would naturally grow to where a camera is an accepted -- and expected -- feature.

It looks like the camera phone revolution will be built on the backs of consumers, and as Reiter says, proving wrong analysts that consistently disregard consumers as being capable of leading the market. But these companies' objections raise a couple of other points as well.

The main point is that disabling camera phones via software isn't going to stop anyone that really wants to use it. There will be some sort of patch available on the Net within days to get around it. Just like limitations that companies put on employees' Web usage, it's going to become some employee's primary concern to figure out a way around it.

But another issue is what about businesses where the camera phone could become a valuable tool? Are employees in those areas out of luck because of a paranoid CTO?