- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 18, 2010

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) - Udoay Ghosh sat sipping coffee before an early morning flight from Dubai International Airport, looking with affection at his two _ yes, two _ BlackBerry smart phones laid out in front of him.

As an executive for electronics company G-Hanzs, the Dubai-based businessman travels about 300 days a year and uses the gadgets to keep up with more than 100 e-mails a day. So it’s understandable he’s worried about government threats to ban the service.

“This is my laptop, my office and my home,” he said of the devices. “People nowadays don’t wait. In today’s world, time is money and if you lose time, you lose business.”

Like hordes of other on-the-go professionals, Ghosh sees the BlackBerry as an indispensable business tool _ a constant companion for those looking to get ahead. But with the United Arab Emirates and India threatening bans on key BlackBerry features over security concerns, users fear their work routines could be sorely crimped and are scrambling for alternatives, at least while on the road.

Many BlackBerry devotees interviewed by The Associated Press at airports and offices around the world this week struggled to remember how they ever got by without the devices.

Some, including information-technology consultant Penny Ge in Shanghai, said business trips would become harder without easy access to e-mail. Others, including Indian broker Krishnan Viswanathan, are already weighing alternatives such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Zenprise Inc., a Fremont, California, firm that helps companies manage their mobile phones, said many of its multinational customers are considering alternatives, but would have to train employees on how to use them. The companies remain in limbo, though, because negotiations are ongoing between governments and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd.

“The indecision breeds frustration,” said Ahmed Datoo, Zenprise’s vice president of marketing.

Millions of devotees, famously including U.S. President Barack Obama, rely on the BlackBerry handsets to tap out quick _ if often misspelled and poorly punctuated _ e-mails and instant messages to fellow users. Die-hard aficionados use them to catch up on work in taxis and airport transit lounges, and even _ to the chagrin of spouses _ to squeeze out a few more productive minutes before drifting off to sleep.

In Madrid, Juan Cejudo answered eight e-mails with his BlackBerry while waiting to check in for his flight to Dubai. He cringed at the thought of not being able to use the device.

“Without it, I cannot work,” said the 40 year-old Spanish executive with a Swiss company that makes bank software.

But work without it they must, if the bans go through.

India is threatening to block BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messaging services unless it wrings out concessions from device maker RIM by the end of this month.

The UAE _ home to Dubai, one of the world’s busiest layover stops for long-haul international passengers _ has given the Canadian company until October to comply with its demands or face bans on e-mails, messaging and Web services. The crackdown would apply even to passengers making connections at the country’s airports for other destinations.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia has threatened to block the devices’ popular BlackBerry Messenger service, though the kingdom recently said it would allow service to continue, citing “positive developments” in its efforts with RIM. It’s unclear if the issue there has been fully resolved.

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