Do You Buy BlackBerrys for Their Keyboards?

With all of the hype surrounding the BlackBerry Torch 9800 and its inclusion of both a physical keyboard and touchscreen, I have to wonder how many BlackBerry owners purchase them because they want a real keyboard. Research In Motion (RIM) touts its QWERTY keyboards as a key feature in its lineup of smartphones, and they certainly are some of the best in the world.

The reason why BlackBerrys and their keyboards have become synonymous is due to a variety of reasons. Remember back in the dark ages of cell phones circa early to mid 2000’s? To text message you didn’t really have that many options. The dreadful T9 predictive text method (or the even worse method of ‘multi-tap’) on traditional phones was pitted against the BlackBerrys QWERTY keyboard and people realized that they could actually be productive.

Imitators of course rolled out keyboards of their own and the three-way battle between smartphones, regular phones (dumbphones?) and feature phones erupted. It wasn’t until Apple and Google popularized the touchscreen with the iPhone and Android OS that RIM’s keyboard faced any real competition as a method of entering data.

Of course, the iPhone sells quite well with only four buttons—and two of those are for the volume. Many Android OS phones are also sporting touchscreens as a data entry method but most still have slide-out physical keyboards as a backup. In my experience, many Android phones simply do not have good enough touchscreen typing software to let them take out the physical keyboard. Haters go ahead and hate.

This makes me wonder if BlackBerry owners want real keyboards or if real keyboards are just something that BlackBerrys come with. (Kind of a chicken and the egg problem.) My question for you is do you buy BlackBerrys because of the keyboard? I have a suspicion that if BlackBerrys with only touchscreens—besides the current Storm series—came out, a lot of you would pick one up in a heartbeat as long as they are comparable to the iPhones’ touchscreen. Are real keyboards that necessary anymore? I want to know what you think.

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