The New York Times has an excellent article today on the current state of smartphones and the brewing battle between Blackberry-maker RIM and Apple for world dominance. The article points out well-known statistics such as… –worldwide smartphone shipments jumped 60 percent in the last three months of 2007 as compared to the same timeframe a […]
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In Praise Of The Touchscreen Keyboard…

The New York Times has an excellent article today on the current state of smartphones and the brewing battle between Blackberry-maker RIM and Apple for world dominance. The article points out well-known statistics such as…

–worldwide smartphone shipments jumped 60 percent in the last three months of 2007 as compared to the same timeframe a year prior

–the iPhone grabbed 17.4% of the US smartphone market in its first six months

— and, while 54% of Blackberry users are very satisfied with their devices,  a whopping 79% of iPhone users are.

The article discusses the challenges RIM faces as the iPhone’s long-awaited ability to use MSExchange approaches, as well as some of the steps RIM is taking to maintain its dominance. These include an upcoming 3G device and the possibility of a touch screen interface.

It is a good read and worth hopping over to the Times. There was one line in particular that grabbed my attention.

In the article RIM co-chief executive and technological visionary Mike Lazaridis discusses the possibility of a touch screen Blackberry. He comments on his personal dislike of "soft" keyboards stating, 

‘I couldn ‘t type on it (referring to the iPhone’s touch screen) and I still can ‘t type on it, and a lot of my friends can ‘t type on it, It ‘s hard to type on a piece of glass. ‘

Six months ago I would have been in complete agreement with Mr. Lazaridis. The idea of trying to REALLY type (rather than send a brief sms) on a glass keyboard seemed all but impossible. When I first got my iPhone I loved the phone but HATED the keyboard. In all honesty it was almost a deal-breaker for me. While I was a BAD typist on the physical keyboard of my WM device I was even worse on my iPhone.

Then I decided to listen to my good friend SteveJ and "trust the keyboard".

I also spent some serious time with TypingWeb’s Typing Tutor.

The result was that I quickly got the the point where I was a just as poor a typist on the iPhone as I am on other devices. In fact, I have becomes slightly LESS poor on the iPhone. (Even the best keyboard can only do so much when you are "spelling-challenged").

A few weeks ago I spent some time with a loaner Blackberry Curve and a loaner WindowsMobile Blackjack in order to do a little comparison between all three keyboards. The result surprised me-

I disovered that I am now as fast or father (or would it be as slow or no slower?) on the iPhone than I am on the other two devices. More significantly, however, was the fact that I realized don ‘t LIKE typing on a physical keyboard. I actually found that the on-screen keyboard is much more comfortable than the physical ones and causes far less fatigue when I type for a significant amount of time.
    
According to Britian’s TimesOnline one of the (MANY) recent rumors about the upcoming next generation iPhone is that it could have a sliding keyboard. All I can say is…

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

I’m curious about about what others think. Is the iPhone’s keyboard something you-

-tolerate?

-can take or leave?

-have come to like and appreciate?
  

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