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Mitsubishi V301D - Camera Phone Backlash?

 Mitsubishi V301D Discontinued
31st July 2004

At Mobile Gazette, we last took a look at Japanese handsets back in May when Vodafone K.K. of Japan announced a whole range of new handsets, including the Sharp V602SH and Sharp V402SH which gave a taste of what handsets might be like sometime in the future for the GSM-centric world.

Vodafone Japan insist on naming all the new handsets on their network V-something regardless of manufacturer. Out of this bunch, the original Mitsubishi V301D was a fairly unremarkable phone, consisting of a fairly standard size clamshell featuring a VGA-resolution camera, 132x176 pixel main display, picture messaging and all the typical things you'd find in any handset worldwide. Of course, the V301D isn't a GSM phone as it runs on Vodafone KK's PDC network.

So, the Mitsubishi V301D is a decent but unremarkable phone. So what's changed to make it more interesting? Well quite simply, Mitsubishi have taken out the camera. Yes, really.

 V301D with and without camera Why would a phone manufacturer downgrade their phone by removing a feature, especially in a highly competitive marketplace like Japan. The answer is simple - camera phones pose a huge security risk in certain locations, especially sensitive manufacturing and research facilities, and we guess also military and government buildings. And this move reflects a real headache that many businesses are beginning to have - how to control this sudden boom in discrete digital cameras that can be taken anywhere, cunningly hidden in mobile phones. Don't forget, a few years ago having this sort of technology in a mobile would be like something out of a James Bond movie. And now we don't give it a second thought.. at least most of the time. You can compare the phones on the image on the left.

Mitsubishi are not the only manufacturer to realise this problem. Earlier in the year, Nokia announced two handsets, the Nokia 6820 and the rarer Nokia 6810. The 6820 features a digital camera, but the 6810 substitutes an FM radio instead. This is a shrewd move by Nokia because it gives businesses a useful choice. It's not just about security either - in businesses camera phones raise issues of increased costs due to picture messaging and create more work for IT departments as users struggle to transfer pictures between their phones and PCs.

Unfortunately for Nokia, they didn't learn their lesson when they designed the Nokia 9500 Communicator - a fine business orientated tool, but one that many potential users have rejected in advance because of the risks of having a camera on board.

So - does the V301D represent the beginning of a camera phone backlash? At Mobile Gazette, we think that it does - basically because for many businesses camera phones are more trouble than they are worth, and for manufacturers it's easy enough to expand choice in this way because it's only a minor change to their production process - in factories that usually ban camera phones!

The Mitsubishi V301D (camera-less version) will be available exclusively in Japan in August 2004.

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Mitsubishi V301D (Camera-less) at a glance

Available:

August 2004

Network:

PDC

Data:

PDC

Screen:

132x176 pixels, 65,000 colours

Camera:

No

Size:

Standard clamshell
95x48x23 (excl. antenna) / 95 grams

Bluetooth:

No

Infra-red:

Not specified

Polyphonic:

Yes

Java:

No

Battery life:

2 hours talk / 14 days standby

 

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