HTC may want to consider physical QWERTY and lead in this niche market

HTC may want to consider physical QWERTY and lead in this niche market

Summary: HTC makes great hardware, but doesn't have the pull of Samsung to generate enthusiasm to excel at the moment. Can they return to their days of physical QWERTY keyboards and succeed there?

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HTC may want to consider physical QWERTY and lead in this niche market

I wrote about HTC's continued financial woes last week and was encouraged to read this morning on ZDNet that Peter Chou, HTC CEO, sent out an internal email attempting to rally the troops. With a recent Nokia poll showing a majority of respondents preferring a QWERTY keyboard and RIM's uncertain future, I am left wondering if HTC can make a play in the Android and Windows Phone markets with QWERTY devices.

HTC was a leader in hardware QWERTY smartphones with the BEST landscape QWERTY ever in the HTC Touch Pro 2 and one of the best portrait QWERTY devices in the Dash 3G. HTC still has a couple of recent physcial QWERTY devices out there in the HTC Arrive and HTC myTouch 4G Slide, but it is rare to find a hardware QWERTY device that is not from Motorola (Droid), RIM or Nokia. I used to be a major fan of physical keyboards, but have gotten used to the full touchscreen experience and am not sure I want to go back to a physical QWERTY. If HTC came out with a high end Windows Phone 8 or Android Jelly Bean device with a QWERTY keyboard that may sway me to reconsider.

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RIM is having trouble finding its way, Nokia is getting hammered, and Motorola doesn't appear to be doing very well with Google as their owner. These companies still make physical QWERTY devices and it seems there may be a market to cater to these users and bring them to HTC. Apple will not make an iPhone with a physical QWERTY and given that HTC makes some of the best Android and Windows Phone hardware out there it may be something to consider. Are you a fan of physical QWERTY keyboards? Do you think HTC should continue to develop devices with this input method?

Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, Microsoft, Smartphones

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21 comments
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  • Is there hope?

    I'm not sure what could help HTC. Even after the announcement that the Lumia 900 would not get windows 8, it still beat the HTC One X in sales for the month of July at AT&T. It has also remained in the top three phones at AT&T since launch in April.
    James_SB
  • I suspect those poll results are heavily skewed

    by current feature phone owners or recent converts or crap android virtual keyboard victims. Other than that it's probably single digit. But sure make one model and find out. Just don't go crazy because it's very doubtful that they positively impact sales or share
    Johnny Vegas
  • Finally reason comes back

    Nokia yesterday with their survey and now this article. I hope physical keyboards will make a comeback as I hate, no I despise touchscreen keyboards!

    I've been over a year now since my HTC Touch-Dual with a small qwerty keyboard (two letters per key, Windows Mobile) died on me and I'm stuck with a touchscreen keyboard and going crazy every time I type something...
    lepoete73
  • No more QWERTY

    HTC and Nokia have both said no to QWERTY phones because no one was really buying them. When was the last time a QWERTY phone was at the high end? The Droid 2? They add unnecessary bulk, and while Windows Phone and Android support external keyboards, support isn't ideal.
    Jeff Kibuule
  • Hoping HTC makes it, but QWERTY isn't the answer.

    We currently have two HTC phones in the family and used to have another. We've really loved the devices, and I hate to hear about the financial woes.

    That being said, I don't think QWERTY is the answer.

    The choice is not: QWERTY vs Touch keyboard
    The choice is : QWERTY and smallish screen VS Touch keyboard and larger screen

    People may like QWERTY, but they don't like it enough to give up the nice big screen.

    Competition is good. I hope they find a way to survive.
    markh@...
  • Swype

    and Swype-like keyboards blow even QWERTY out of the water with usability. It blows both QWERTY and traditional touchscreen keyboards out of the water, excepting those freaks of nature that can two thumb type faster than should be physically possible.
    Aerowind
    • Most of the time, yes

      Swype and Flow are excellent input methods, but there are times when a physical keyboard is the only way to go. Case in point: typing passwords or doing SSH stuff on your phone - in those cases, autocorrect becomes a problem, especially if you have a strong password with plenty of numbers and obscure symbols in it. I loved my HTC Touch Pro2 for these tasks. If the CPU was a bit more powerful and there was more RAM, it'd be a fine Android device.

      Joey
      voyager529
  • Physical keyboards FTW

    Physical keyboards have an actual tactile feel which you won't get with a touchscreen and are generally more accurate. Best of all, they don't take up any real estate on the screen, making it infinitely easier to type.

    I own an HTC Desire Z (aka T-Mobile G2), which is a pretty solid device with a physical keyboard and decently sized 3.7" screen, which is relatively small compared to most slate phones (average of 4" or larger), but compared to the phones that do have keyboards like the Samsung Galaxy Q (3.2"), is one of the best of its kind.

    Sadly, they aren't even going to be giving the Desire Z Ice Cream Sandwich (nor will Cyanogen be putting it out due to issues with the camera driver), and since no one else is putting out a decent physical keyboard phone, I'm likely going to be forced to switch.
    Vince Yim
    • im waiting to. replace my htc desire Z

      I got a desireZ as well and I love it. Thing is its getting old and I've cracked the screen but I'm not going to replace it until I can get another keyboard phone. What I would really like is something like the Samsung note with a pull out keyboard
      richard in norway
  • Windows Phone Support for Physical QWERTY Keyboard ?

    Do we know for SURE that Windows Phone can support a Physical QWERTY keyboard (I am sure that an OEM might be able to work around the lack of support, but do we know FOR SURE the OS will support it ?
    I agree that Physical QWERTY COULD be a changer, but other aspects of the phone still have to be comparable.
    IF you have Physical QWERTY, you don't necessarily have to have quite as large of a screen. Yes, it will still add some bulk, but it seems that the Nokia E7 size (others designs may be somewhat applicable) might be an appropriate size at about 4 inches for screen.
    Not sure if HTC is the company to do QWERTY or if Nokia should do it (Nokia must differentiate in some way as they don't do Android, so they may need QWERTY worse than HTC ).
    jkohut
    • Windows Phone already supports Physical Qwerty keyboards

      LG Quantum, HTC Arrive and Dell Venue Pro all are first generation WP7 and came with physical keyboards.
      em_003
      • SUPPORTED

        The key phrase here is SUPPORTED.. WP8 does not ahve one yet, and Dell abandoned the DVP, due to lack of sales (When you only sell it buried on a website not geared for phones, and that only a few phone nerds even know exist.. what a surprise sales were weak..)

        I want a DVP style phone, a bit thinner with WP8.. I hope it happens.
        Charles Goin
  • HTC woes & the keyboard...

    I am a devotee of the QWERTY and absolutely despise the crap Android passes off as a legitimate touchscreen input experience. I'm not a fan of the iPhone, will probably never own one, but give the devil his due - that is how a touchscreen keyboard is done!

    Conversely, any manufacturer that devises a good QWERTY phone without giving up screen area and adding too much girth will be rewarded by those millions of us who until Nokia pointed it out, were thought to be non-existent and forced to buy touchscreens.

    I owned 6 (yes SIX, Sprint couldn't fix 'em so they kept sending replacements) HTC 6800's, a.k.a. the Sprint Mogul, because it had a real keyboard. The reason HTC is in trouble is because of their abysmal software quality and total disregard at fixing it. I'll catch flack for this, but there really is a God - they're being punished by the marketplace that they scoffed at after getting our money and leaving us high and dry with phones that locked up if you looked at them wrong.

    Next to feel the wrath of the buying public - all those OEMs that refuse to support timely OS upgrades. My 8-mth old Moto Photon 4G is still stuck on Gingerbread with no ICS or JB in sight. Will I buy another HTC or Motorola product after being dissed? Not likely and I'm not alone.
    sdaley01@...
  • samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G

    I'm going with this phone when it's released in a few days. I need a keyboard and SAFE features are nice.
    Brandon Tate
  • HTC or NOKIA, Please give us a physical QWERTY keyboard on Windows Phone 8

    My wife and are are still using our HTC TouchPRo 2 with Windows Mobile 6.5 OS and 32 GB microSD on Verizon. The keyboard is fantastic. We actually use it to create and edit documents. We have tried the screen keyboards and they don't work for us and take up screen space. We will be upgrading to Windows Phone 8 but need to have a physical qwerty keyboard. We are keeping our fingers crossed that there will be a great WP8 phone with a physical qwerty keyboard on Verizon. Or we could change carriers to get one.
    KevinLRush
  • Owner of a Dell Venue Pro

    Own a DVP (My favorite phone of all time) and previously owned the Dash 3G, Dash and HP iPaqs before that.. I NEED a portrait QWERTY Keyboard, my finders are too big. I Love my DVP though, and hope HTC would make something like it or the Trophy prototype that was mocked up a year or two ago. The one that looked like a thinner flatter Dash 3G with a touchscreen.. That was gorgeous. PLEASE NOKIA or HTC make a quality portrait QWERTY model.. please..!
    Charles Goin
  • The demand is there...

    There is certainly demand there. I, like you, preferred the physical QWERTY keyboard until I moved to a full touch device and got used to it. Now, like you, I'm not sure I would ever go back.
    Darren Sproat
  • Let's see how far they jump.

    Lol, they think to be able to bring out a device that can compete with Motorola's robustness? Good luck, very bold move.
    One feature that might make the difference in qwerty devices is battery life, yet HTC has quite a bad reputation on that.
    Then of course they will for sure be several years behind on robustness (water protection, shock resistantness, life expectancy, ...).
    Looking forward to the result.
    Ralse
  • QWERTY KEYBOARDS

    As an Owner of a Few of HTC's QWERTY Phones, I would say; YES! HTC and others should bring back the Physical QWERTY Keyboards. A LOT of people are just looking for something Flashy and New. One of the Features that people look at is How Thin can a Phone get. If someone were to be able to break a World Record and come out with a Phone that was 1MM thin, they would have many people flocking to it just so they can say; "See what I have."

    Then there are the people who want a Phone that can be sort of like their Mini-PC in their pocket. They take it out and Open up the QWERTY Keyboard and start to Type like crazy. Whether it's just doing a search online, Typing an E-Mail, or Typing a Letter. When you are typing on the Flat Screen Surface you can get Tactile Feedback but unless you are watching 100% of what's being printed on the screen, then you really DON'T know what's being Typed. If you get to Typing with a Physical QWERTY Keyboard, then you can Actually Feel the Physical Keys and know if you are Typing the Right Keys and also if you Accidentally hit more than One Key. You CAN'T do that on a Flat Smooth Surface at all. Too many times people hear from someone that they didn't understand what was sent because of Mis-Typed Words. Also some people Text something other than what they thought because of Typing on a Smooth Flat surface.

    There should be a Speed contest of how fast someone can Accurately Type on Both a QWERTY Keyboard and on an On Screen Keyboard.

    So far, everytime that I have seen or heard of someone winning a Texting Contest, it's been Won with a Physical QWERTY Keyboard.
    gd761@...
  • QWERTY KEYBOARD REQUESTS

    From quite a LOT of Conversations With Sprint and HTC in the past and going way past just Customer Service Reps, I have asked some interesting questions and one of the questions that I have asked Both Sprint and HTC, I got the Exact Same Response.

    "If I would like to find out if and when HTC would be coming out with another Windows Phone with a Physical QWERTY Keyboard" is what I had asked. What Both Sprint and HTC had said was that if HTC or ANY Manufacture is to build a device with specific features, then it would be depending on If the Carrier "AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon" would put in that request to the Manufacture. Some ask for the Manufacture to either Include or Exclude Features in the different Model Phones. It has to do with what the Carriers WANT or DON'T WANT, as to what the final specs are in the phones when they come to the Customers.

    So, what we ALL NEED to do is that we NEED to call our Carriers and request that they have ANY New Model Phones with the Features that WE WANT. SO, GO MAKE THE CALL AND REQUEST THE PHYSICAL QWERTY KEYBOARDS!
    gd761@...