North America's largest trade show last week in Las Vegas saw very few cellphone makers with the traditional numeric keypad-style phone dialer interface, opting instead for QWERTY-style keyboards in North America. We are witnessing the migration of 1-2-3 giving way to QWERTY in much the same way rotary dials gave way to push-button phones. Continuing this though, I wonder how long it will be until we no longer have phone numbers in the traditional sense?
The move comes as cellphone and smartphone makers look to capitalize on the user abilties afforded by direct-access input. Many new devices have touch screens as well, enabling applications to modify the screen for custom input at any location, creating new ways for users to interact with their device.
In the standard keypad example, to type the letters "TGDAILY" requires the sequence 8432444555999 on a 1-2-3 numeric keypad. The QWERTY keyboard not only requires fewer strokes, but also provides a more intuitive connection between desire and the thing -- meaning I desire to type TGDAILY, and that's what I do with direct-input devices rather than the obsfucated illogical concept of 8432444555999.
Worldwide, numeric keypads are still a going concern. According to NPD Group, 31% of phone sold in the United States in 4Q'2008 had QWERTY keypads, which is up only 5% from two years ago. They also mention that the demand for a QWERTY input is largely a North American affair, but a growing one, especially with the advent of modern software.
This is a trend that will not reverse. Touch-screens and QWERTY keyboards are the future. Their programmable, variable, more direct access provides abilities which are not possible from a 12-key input. And the desire to do more via software and less via hardware (meaning one screen for display and input) will be inescapable. In fact, it will be the trend in every form of computing.
The days of keyboards, mice and touch-tone phones are numbered. The future is a single monitor with touch-abilities. It will be the full-on input method for all but the most die-hard folks out there who will still desire a mechanical keyboard -- at least until voice recognition advances far enough.
Source: TG Daily