Why Rumors of a Slide-out Keyboard on the iPhone 5 Are Interesting

Regardless of what you may read, the prospect of a slide-out keyboard on the iPhone 5 remains dubious at best, especially given Steve Jobs? historically negative comments about slide-out smartphone keyboards. But if the rumors prove to be true, find out what Apple might be thinking.

Typically speaking, Apple and Steve Jobs rarely reverse themselves; usually when Jobs decides to malign a feature or technology found on a competing gadget, he?s already thought far enough ahead on how Apple can offer something better and more reliable. Because of this fact, it is surprising that the rumor of a slide-out keyboard on the iPhone 5 persists in the tech media.

Apple Insider reported a few weeks ago ?that Apple has built three prototype models for its anticipated ?iPhone 5,? and one of them has a ?sliding cover? that conceals a keyboard.? The photo here supposes what a slide-out keyboard might look like on the iPhone 5.

Some have suggested that if Apple were to make this unprecedented shift in its deign of the iPhone 5, it would be a move to compete with other mainstream smartphones like the Palm Pre 3 or the T-Mobile G2. Others suggest that a slide-out keyboard would be little more than a workaround for perhaps not delivering on the 4-inch screen that many people feel is coming to the iPhone 5.

There is, however, another more philosophical possibility that transcends all of these explanations.

The fact is, mobile computing is fast-degrading the desktop PC market. In fact, many people believe that the desktop PC for home use could be obsolete within the next decade. In addition, even laptops and netbooks are seeing a decline in popularity, as many people are now opting for tablets over laptops. While this may seem like a whimsical change on the part of consumers, it has big implications for companies like Apple who are striving to lead the way on mobile technology.

If tablets and smartphones are going to be the next-generation laptops and desktops, then a QWERTY keyword on the iPhone 5 may be the first step in launching that changeover. A slide-out keyboard could be seen as a gesture of making the iPhone 5 more productivity-focused, giving the user an option of using the screen or thumb board to type e-mails and business content.

I?m not the only one hinting at this: other reports have surfaced suggesting a similar trend, with BeatWeek posting an opinion piece that the ?iPhone 5 could have more in common with iPad 3 than iPhone 4.? It may very well be that the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 are on some kind of crash course that will result in a hybrid mobile computing device down the line ? big enough to be used like a tablet and either small or sophisticated enough to still be your mobile phone.

Chances are, Steve Jobs is not going to give his detractors the pleasure of deriding him for putting a slide-out keyboard on the iPhone 5. But don?t be surprised if Apple rolls out something slide-out for the next iPhone iteration. Maybe even a slide-out secondary touch screen that would double as a keyboard?

 

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