QWERTY Vs. Touchscreen Form Factor

Lauta photos courtesy of mynokiablog.

Inspired by some comments made by Ameego about the ‘axed’ Lauta on a previous blog, I felt inclined to put some thoughts together regarding the whole keyboard vs. keyboard-less argument.

It appears that most smartphone manufacturers these days are going with exactly the same old formula: that is a big plus 4″ touchscreen (verging on tablet territory AKA phablets).  But what about all us ‘old-fashioned’ tactile nuts?

The argument I’ve often read is that no-one wants a phone with a physical keyboard anymore because its ugly and bulky…. well, I’m a ‘consumer’ and I WANT , no ‘NEED’ a keyboard and I certainly do not think they are either ugly or bulky for my needs.

Take a look at these photos of the Lauta which were going to be the next MeeGo phone (follow up to the N9) before Nokia pulled the plug:

Lauta: Does this strike you as ugly or bulky ?

Lauta: the keyboard that could have been…

To my eyes at least, this design, if anything is the absolute opposite of ‘ugly and bulky’ – in fact, this is my idea of ‘techerotica’.   So why aren’t more manufacturers giving us a decent smartphone option with a slide-out qwerty I ask?    It’s either because there just really isn’t a demand (which I personally do not believe: see graph below), or it’s because extra manufacturing time and costs are a hinderance and therefore profit margins are lower etc etc.

Even Blackberry with their new dev phone have gone completely keyboardless; a company who have always had a rich tradition of keyboard-based models.   And what about Nokia, who have, in my mind always released the very best in slide-out qwerty based handset designs – even they – currently have nothing to show.

So what’s going on ?   I know there is a demand for these kind of handsets – especially with entrepreneurs and business professionals, who use their devices for hardcore emailing and other typing-based pursuits.  Just look at the results of this poll from a Nokia blog via androidauthority:

Nokia Blog Results: Qwerty vs Touchscreen

Based on this evidence and also the incredible demand for the developer-only MeeGo qwerty N950 (there were even public petitions to get this one released!!), I suggest to you that there is definitely a demand.

Look, even I have got fairly used to touchscreen by now, but I still find it fiddly to use at times and still curse every once in a while…. okay I’ll survive, but why just ‘survive’ when you could thrive ?  I’ve worked out that a physical keyboard on my phone saves me +/- 30 seconds a day so 30 x 7 x 52 x (years left to live approx) 40 would equal a total time saving in my lifetime of: 436,800 seconds which equates to…. wait for it…. 7,280 minutes = 121.333 hours =  err 5 days lifetime saving.

But lets just say for arguments sake that a qwerty based handset saves me a minute a day on average, or maybe even two, or perhaps if I was a developer it would probably be closer to an hour.   An hour a day would equate to almost two years (606.66 days) in time savings and that is a lot of holiday time I’d be missing out on!

So going back to the original argument are you ‘for’ a qwerty based handset or are you ‘for’ touchscreen or perhaps a compromise like this one?   Poll is here please vote to register your interest. :-)

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