As the the smartphone comes to be increasingly defined as a single slab dominated by a large touch display and few if any ancillary controls on the sides, one of the industry’s most celebrated manufacturers in HTC may be the next to drop hardware keyboards from its hardware designs for future smartphones, if comments from creative director Claude Zellweger prove to be correct.
The comments were made during a press event held by HTC in Seattle for the One series of flagship smartphones, which do not feature a hardware keyboard of any sort.
“As a company, the QWERTY keyboard we’re moving away from in general.” “We feel that putting too much effort into that [QWERTY] would take away from our devices.”
The comments regarding device designs with hardware keyboards come at a time when many major manufacturers are moving away from designs with keyboards in favor of ever thinner devices with larger displays, though such confirmation by HTC that it is moving away from the hardware keyboard is sure to alienate the dedicated base of consumers that simply refuse to accept touch displays as an input method. HTC’s last two devices which featured hardware keyboards prominently in their designs consisted of the Palm Treo-alike HTC Status/ChaCha and the last sliding keyboard design in the Windows Phone powered Arrive, neither of which have been updated recently
This marks a sea change for the Taiwanese manufacturer, which made its name on solid hardware featuring some of the best hardware keyboards in the industry for smartphones, which frequently rivaled hardware from RIM and Nokia. Many of the most popular HTC models featured variations on a theme with the hardware keyboard, such as the Touch
Pro series with its tilting display that allowed for one handed typing with keys that had actual travel, the Ultimate which featured a hinge that allowed for full typing if needed, the ultimately failed Advantage UMPC series and even the Treo Pro when Palm outsourced hardware manufacturing for the model to the company.
An end of an era is sure to be marked as more and more manufacturers move away from hardware keyboards, though other manufacturers such as Motorola continue to design modern hardware with keyboards, as evidenced by the original Droid series and the Droid Pro variants, but none are more celebrated and appreciated such as those HTC devices with hardware keyboards.