RIM Does Without the Keyboard
A virtual keyboard doesn’t take up any space when you’re not using it, and it’s flexible; you can switch from QWERTY to a foreign language to music and browser controls instantly. But unlike a physical keyboard, you can’t tell without looking whether your finger is on one key or two and you don’t get the feel of the key moving when you press it, so you’re more likely to press twice or not press hard enough.
Studies conducted during the 1990s comparing typing speed and accuracy on touch screen and physical keyboards show it’s slower to move from one key to the next on a touch screen and you spend more time pressing each key. Although adding audio feedback (like the clicks on the iPhone keyboard) speeds up moving between and hitting keys, it can’t bring you back to the speed you can get on a physical keyboard.
And you’re always more accurate on a physical keyboard than you are on a touch screen. If you’re not a touch typist, you’ll get faster and more accurate after a few days of using a touch screen but you’d still get 10-15% more typing done in the same time on a physical keyboard. Expert typists don’t find the touch screen better over time and they get twice as much typing done on a physical keyboard where they get physical feedback. You can see the same difference in a recent study from the University of Glasgow comparing QWERTY and touch screen phones.
Many Blackberry users count themselves as expert typists. After RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis publicly criticized the difficulty of typing on glass, and Vodafone had asked for a touch screen phone that was something different, RIM would never have launched a touch screen without some kind of feedback to improve the experience.