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As touchscreens dominate, Nokia survey says keyboard phones preferred

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When asked which input method is preferred on a phone, the old QWERTY keyboard is still a winner. That’s according to a recent survey by the Nokia Conversations(s nok) blog, who asked which of the following is your favorite input method: QWERTY keyboard, numeric keypad, voice or touchscreen. Nearly half opted for the hardware keyboard and in every country save the U.S., the QWERTY came out on top.

The results are a little surprising to me although it’s difficult to put too much stock in them. Nokia doesn’t say how many poll responses it received and let’s face it: Nokia was among the last to adopt full touchscreens on its phones and didn’t seem to want to bulk up many prior models with full QWERTY keyboards. Instead, it relied upon numeric keypad entry for the bulk of its devices in efforts to keep devices smaller.

For a company that led the first mobile phone era, it almost seems that Nokia is still a step behind in this regard. The stellar full keyboards on Research In Motion(s rimm) devices helped vault the BlackBerry to a market leader but Nokia still didn’t aggressively pursue QWERTY input on the majority its phones.

Later, the iPhone(s aapl) arguably created the next phone era with a touchscreen and on-screen keyboard, but Nokia’s Symbian OS wasn’t optimized for touchscreens until a few years later and by then it was too late. Now, with Windows Phone, Nokia has adopted the touchscreen and software keyboard, but still hasn’t made much of a dent in the overall smartphone market.

The U.S. was the only country in the poll to prefer the touchscreen over all other forms of input: 47.22 percent would rather type on a screen as opposed to the 33.3 percent who prefer a hardware keyboard. What’s odd to me is that the first full touchscreen phone to appeal widespread is the iPhone and the U.S. only accounts for around 40 percent of iPhone sales. That means in countries who prefer a QWERTY keyboard, some are forgoing that preference for Apple’s hardware and software.

This does reinforce to a degree, however, why Research In Motion sales have continued to drop in the U.S. What was once a key competitive advantage — the stellar keypads on a BlackBerry — is no longer as desirable. Instead, consumers have turned their focus on digital app or media ecosystems and the simplification of what used to be complex handset activities or settings. Regardless of input type, Nokia is at least making some strides in that regard with Microsoft’s Windows Phone, although it still has a long road ahead.

9 Responses to “As touchscreens dominate, Nokia survey says keyboard phones preferred”

  1. John Cate

    I can believe that survey. I still use a Nokia E5 with its full qwerty keyboard because it suits my needs much better than any of the Apple toys or their knock-offs.

  2. The problem is that in countries where the qwerty pad is preferred, there are no more qwerty pad phones being manufactured to be bought. I’m from the uk and currently stuck in a situation where I can’t buy the phone I want (sony xperia pro) because they have stopped making it along with most other qwerty keyboard phones.

  3. Lynne Gregg

    Depends on the user and the use. If you’re sending long email replies, then, yes, you want an actual keyboard that works effectively. I use the Apple wireless keyboard with both iPhone and iPad when I want to compose an accurate message that has some length to it.

  4. Qwerty keyboards are my favorite but most manufacturers don’t give that option on their best phones. A full soft keyboard has the advantage of not having a predefined keyboard. The virtual keyboard can be in whatever language that is needed or allow multiple languages.

  5. hahaha. on the blog of a manufacturer of qwerty keyboards, you asked which keyboard people prefer and got the answer “qwerty, of course!!” and you’re using it as fodder for the case that people actually want that?

    so you’d accept the answer if i went to an apple board and ask which keyboard people like and was told 99% like touchscreen?

  6. The problem isn’t the responses it’s the question. The question itself does not get to the heart of the issue. The issue at hand is, what does the consumer want taking into account the full package. I prefer typing on a full sized ergonomic keyboard, but I won’t carry one to make it easier to type of my mobile device because I value other aspects more, like weight, screen size, ease of use. I like Nokia, but they’ve made some seriously bone-headed moves lately, like getting into an exclusive arrangement w/MS for an OS that has had a poor track record. They would’ve been much better off trying to compete in the Android space.

  7. Kevin, for the US Market to buy 40% of all the iPhones is an indicator that touch screen isn’t number one choice in the world. Remember over 200 other countries buy the remaining 60%.