Once You Go QWERTY, You Never Go Back

I’ve been carrying a Nokia E71 for several months now, but I swapped back to my N82 briefly a little while back when I wanted to use its far superior camera (best-ever camera on a phone IMO). The biggest change was having to use predictive text again — and that wasn’t something I enjoyed too much, having gotten used to the QWERTY goodness of the E71. I’d have a really hard time going back to a standard keypad at this point, and I’m not sure I’d want to.

AT&T’s CMO says that what it’s labelled “quick-messaging phones” — feature phones with QWERTY keyboards — will “usurp the feature phone”. We’re certainly seeing more and more of them here in the US, across all the operators. But from my view, I’m not sure I see them “usurping” featurephones so much as hampering Blackberry’s consumer push, and perhaps some of the growth of smartphones. I’ve felt for a long time the main attraction of Blackberry and other QWERTY smartphones to the consumer market wasn’t push email, but rather the keyboard, and how much easier it makes texting and IM.

Further, I don’t think that adding QWERTY keyboards to devices means the feature phone is dying, it’s simply evolving, as you’d expect it to. The feature phone market, or at least the non-smartphone market, still has a lot of life left in it, and increasingly, the smartphone/feature phone distinction will become less and less important.

If you’ve swapped back and/or forth between QWERTY and non-QWERTY devices, I’d love to hear about your experience and your thoughts in the comments. Are devices with standard keypads on their way out?

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