Consumer Apps on Business Smartphones: Problems Waiting to Happen?
By Al Sacco
Managing Editor, CIO
The last year has seen a number of handset makers traditionally known for their business smartphones wade into consumer waters with the introduction of devices aimed either directly at the vast consumer market or with some features meant specifically for consumers.
The BlackBerry Pearl
In September of 2006, Research In Motion, maker of the uber popular BlackBerry devices, released the BlackBerry Pearl 8100, which featured the tried and true “push” e-mail system that made RIM a staple in corporate settings, as well as a high-quality media player, digital camera and slot for expandable memory. It was the first BlackBerry to include such features, and it was also the first RIM device that was designed with style in mind in addition to function. (Check out our review for more on the Pearl.) Since then, RIM has released a number of devices with such features, including the BlackBerry Curve and the more business-centric 8800 series, though the 8800 phones don’t have cameras.
Then in October came the Treo 680 from Palm, another handset maker known almost exclusively for its business-oriented Palm Pilot PDAs and Treo smartphones. The Treo 680 was smaller than any other Treos–except the Treo 750, which shares the same form factor–and it was initially available in red, orange, white and silver. It also included a media player app and a 30-day free trial to Yahoo’s Music Unlimited service.
And just last week, Palm released another consumer-oriented smartphone in Europe: the Palm 500. The device is the company’s first smartphone without a touch screen and it’s clearly another attempt to ride RIM’s success with the Pearl, as the Treo 680 hasn’t taken the market by storm, to say the least. (Palm has not yet announced detail regarding the Palm 500’s availability in the United States.)
As handset makers increasingly pack consumer-oriented applications into their smartphones, business devices are being used in new–and potentially dangerous–ways. That means more challenges for CIOs in selecting and securing the devices they choose to deploy across their organizations. But it also means that CIOs themselves have access to such apps on their corporate phones.
Do you have a corporate-issued phone with a media player, camera or other consumer-oriented applications, or have you deployed any across your organization? If so, do you use those apps? Which ones? Do you block or disable such applications? And how important to you is the ability to disable the cameras or expandable memory functions on your staffers’ business phones?
When I reviewed a number of devices for CIO.com’s business-savvy smartphone review, the IT executives I worked with told me that they didn’t mind cameras or media players on the business phones their organizations used, but they also said such apps offered no real business value. Do you agree?
Finally, I can’t help but wonder how many of you carry two devices because you don’t want to use your corporate phones for personal reasons or they can’t do something your personal devices can. I can picture those bulging pockets right now. I just hope you’ve got enough style to steer clear of the whole multiple holster thing…
Al Sacco was a journalist, blogger and editor who covers the fast-paced mobile beat for CIO.com and IDG Enterprise, with a focus on wearable tech, smartphones and tablet PCs. Al managed CIO.com writers and contributors, covered news, and shared insightful expert analysis of key industry happenings. He also wrote a wide variety of tutorials and how-tos to help readers get the most out of their gadgets, and regularly offered up recommendations on software for a number of mobile platforms. Al resides in Boston and is a passionate reader, traveler, beer lover, film buff and Red Sox fan.