Despite the flak the company gets, there are still a reasonable number of people toting BlackBerry handsets. What makes these phones -- or some of BlackBerry's devices, at least -- stand out from the crowd? They are still packing a real, physical keyboard. They have buttons and everything! But these are not dumb phones -- joking aside -- these are fully-fledged smartphones, and they still have keys that have to be depressed with force.
Recent revelation show that until Apple released the iPhone, Google's Android devices were not going to touchscreen handsets, they too were going to include a physical keyboard. This got me thinking -- what if Nokia, or someone else, was to release a Windows Phone with a physical keyboard. Would it be a step backwards, or could it be an interesting quirk that would appeal to a different part of the mobile market?
There are a couple of handset style options that manufacturers could opt for -- maybe even more. Looking at things traditionally, there is the option of just having a keyboard tacked beneath the screen. Simple and effective.
Then there is the slide-out option. This would allow for the possibility of retaining current touchscreen functionality, but adding the ability to slide out a keyboard as and when required. Thinking of different form factors, there could be clamshell, flip out keyboards... there are lots of varieties.
Of course, Windows Phone is an operating system designed to be touch-friendly, but there is no reason that a keyboard could not also be used. With phones now used for serious work as well as personal tasks, it makes sense to make it easier to type lengthy documents. I use my phone for a lot of things, but I can't really imagine wanting to spend too long typing with a tiny on-screen keyboard. Maybe a physical set of keys would change that.
What do you think? Would an Windows Phone with a real keyboard be of interest to you?