QWERTY Candy Bar Phones- Not So ForgottenYes, train stations are wonderful microcosms of mobile life - everyone's got their devices out, whether making a call, checking email, looking something up or simply finding entertainment. And I had time to spare, with almost an hour before my delayed train.
The trick was being nosy enough to work out which models each person had without attracting attention! The tally of smartphones (i.e. I discounted any low end feature phones and multimedia devices like iPod Touches), after an hour, was:
Blackberry Curve - 8
Blackberry Bold 9700 series - 7
Apple iPhone 4 - 7
Apple iPhone 3G/3GS - 5
HTC Desire - 4
Samsung Galaxy S II - 4
Nokia N8 - 2
Nokia 5800 - 2
Nokia N95 - 2
Nokia E72 - 2
Nokia N97 mini - 1
Nokia E71 - 1
Samsung Galaxy S - 1
HTC Hero - 1
Motorola Milestone Droid 2 - 1
Now, this is obviously a very small sample in the wider scheme of things, and perhaps skewed a little to those with the income to travel and to devices which people had evolved as comfortable for travelling with, but I did want to draw out a few points of interest.
Phones, phones, phones
Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
Of 48 smartphones spotted, ten were powered by Symbian OS, roughly in line with 20%-ish market share these days (though, as reported previously, dropping somewhat). 12 were iOS devices and 11 ran Android. A full fifteen ran Blackberry's OS, intriguingly. Overall though, a pretty fair spread of market share across four smartphone OS.
[Also of incidental interest is that the E71 and N95's appearance shows how long lived some of these classic smartphones are!]
However, if we look at these figures by form factor, we see:
Full-face touchscreen - 26
Qwerty candybar (Blackberry/E71-like) - 18
Hybrid (Qwerty and touch, with mechanism) - 2
T9 traditional - 2
The fascinating bit here isn't that full-face touchscreens were most popular - this is just about the only form factor you'll see being pushed and adored by the tech media over the last couple of years, so no surprise here. The fascinating bit is that 'qwerty candybars' (or 'qwerty slabs') were almost as popular.
However much the fashion seems to be for ever-growing device sizes to accommodate ever-larger touch displays, it seems that, for practical on-the-go access, at least, the likes of the Blackberry Curve remain as popular as ever. Certainly, when mobile, you can't guarantee that both of your hands will be free, you want a certain level of robustness, you want a certain level of insensitivity to unintentional knocks, all situations where pure touchscreen phones have issues.
Nokia has had a big foot in this market since the E71's success and the E6's introduction, with many of the advantages of capacitive multi-touch but with all the 'pros' of the Qwerty candybar form factor, means that Nokia will continue to play a part here. Will the E6 sell as well as the E71 (and, to a lesser extent, the E72)?
So from my own observations, it seems that the Qwerty candybar form factor is very much alive and well - whatever the size-obsessed tech press would have you believe. And, perhaps significantly, Nokia (with Symbian) and RIM (with Blackberry) are the only two smartphone players in this space - Android really, really doesn't scale down to this form factor and as for Apple, we all know what a certain Mr Jobs thinks of 'all this plastic'.... In other words, the same two huge manufacturers and smartphone platforms which are struggling in terms of financials and market share are also the only two that are active in this form factor, one which will (I suspect) remain popular for a far longer time.
In other words, maybe the E6 will prove a more significant device in Nokia's bottom line that many would have believed?
Hopefully more manufacturers will push this form factor. I'm tired of touch only and would like to have more options. More options are always good .
- 07-29-11, 02:08 PM #3
Being in the US this week I have noticed far more dual phone users than I do in Canada, people with both an iPhone and Android, Blackberry and Android, Blackberry and iPhone, even a few dual blackberry people like me, crazy amount of iPads.
But the thing I noticed most was the men 30+ all where using devices with keyboards and if they had a second phone it was on their waist.
Everyone who seemed to be working was on Blackberry's many had Blackberry's and iPads, only saw one other playbook, though they hide really well
Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
- 07-29-11, 03:12 PM #4
I offer myself as proof that the candy bar form factor is alive and doing well in America:
(1) I just renewed my contract and obtained a 9650, and
(2) I hate touch screens, because I think they're grubby gimmicks.
Posted from my CrackBerry at wapforums.crackberry.com
- 07-29-11, 03:24 PM #5
Once you go full touchscreen, it's hard to go back a physical keyboard. I've tried to go back to a physical keyboard, but kept going back to the virtual one 9 times out of 10. Some people will always be handcuffed to a physical qwerty keyboard, but more and more people are moving toward either combination physical/virtual or full virtual keyboards. Touchscreen devices are proving to neither be gimmick, nor archaic.
- 07-29-11, 03:31 PM #6
I may give the all touch a try when the 9860 is available, and if I don't like it give it to one of my kids or just tough it out. Figure I need to start getting ready for QNX phones and start learning to type on virtual keyboard (even though I do OK on my Playbook). I've had a keyboard since the Treo600 (which also had touchscreen). Don't have any interest in anything the competition is offering as Blackberry is superior for communications while traveling internationally (reliable and efficient).
- 07-29-11, 04:16 PM #8
Samsung Instinct when it first came out. Pure garbage. I hated the touch screen, and I'll never buy Samsung again.
- 07-29-11, 04:45 PM #11
- 07-29-11, 05:01 PM #15
- 07-29-11, 05:20 PM #19
I was cleaning my BB screens more than I do with my touchscreens. Not to mention the dust build up in the keyboard and the trackballs getting disgusting. Good thing those are gone now and replaced with a trackpad, even though I have a friend with a 9780 and his trackpad has already been recessed into the device for unknown reasons.
The Instinct is a POS.
- 07-29-11, 05:45 PM #20
LOL @ anyone using the inSTINK as a basis to judge all touchscreens on. That's like saying, all restaurants are crap because I went to a bad restaurant. Do yourself a favor, pick up an LG Dare, Instinct, Storm, iPhone and Thunderbolt and you'll clearly see the difference in touchscreens and they are all nowhere near the same. Especially if basing touchscreen on a resistive touchscreen. There's a huge difference between using a resistive, capacitive and surepress just like there's a huge difference using a phone that actually has an OS optimized for a touchscreen.
Also, a simple screen saver stops all the residue built up on a device. Having said that, there will always be a market for full physical QWERTY keyboards. The question will be, how big the market remains over the next few years.
- 07-29-11, 05:55 PM #21
Many people claim that touchscreens are more popular with younger users, and that older users prefer QWERTY keypads. However, I know a retired man who purchased in iPhone, since he would rather have a device with a bigger screen that was easier to read, rather than a device with a physical keypad but a smaller screen that was difficult for him to read. The big screens available on touchscreen devices might make these devices more popular in general, whether a user is young or old.
- 07-29-11, 06:00 PM #22
- 07-29-11, 06:01 PM #23
- 07-29-11, 06:15 PM #25
As for devices, I think the Torch is a terrific device. It has a large screen for viewing and a physical keyboard for text input. I'd get one of those, but the first thing I would do is look for a way to shut off the touch feature. The same would apply if I was forced to get the 9900 (if, for example, older BlackBerries were no longer available). I'd get one, then look for a way to shut off the touch feature. Hopefully it would have that.