The Quandary

At the end of the Boxee board meeting this past week, co-founder Tom Sella pointed to my Google phone and asked me 'can you type a three or four paragraph email on that?'

I thought about it and honestly answered 'no, I can't.'

My colleague Eric is also trying to switch from Blackberry to the Google phone and he said to me yesterday that his email replies have suffered in the transition. I told him that mine have as well and I am compensating by reading email on the phone and tagging it for replies later. I am doing more browsing on the phone and less on the desktop. But I am doing more email replies on the desktop and less on the phone.

Last night after a long phone call on my Google phone I noticed my battery was low. So on the way to dinner I took the sim card out of the Google phone and put it in my fully charged Blackberry.

That's what I have in my hands now as I type this post on the eliptical trainer at the gym.

The quandary I am facing is the one I've always faced in the Blackberry vs iPhone debate. I cannot type nearly as fast on a screen as a keyboard. I've given the Google phone a month. That's about as long as I've ever given the iPhone

I could carry both the Google phone and Blackberry and swap the sim when necessary. I think I may do that since both have wifi connectivity and are useful as 'iTouch' type devices. 

We will see. But here's how I look at it right now. The Google phone is a better mobile device for me than the iPhone. Multitasking, streaming vs file based audio, and a spare battery are key for me. But what is not yet clear to me is whether the iPhone/Google phone style device is better for me than the Blackberry. There are big compromises to make with each choice and I fear that the ability to type something this long on my mobile device may trump everything else.

As always I'll keep you posted.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jonsteinberg

    Phones are the new cars. G voice or the sim are drivers licenses. I use both iPhone and bberry with google voice.Written from gym on treadmill w/ iPhone

    1. fredwilson

      Nice analogy. I like it

    2. Elie Seidman

      Great analogy. Sometimes you want/need a sports car, sometimes a minivan is the right solution.

      1. fredwilson

        our family car has been a minivan for the past 15 years. now as our kids are heading off to college, maybe its time for me to get a sportscar. except i don’t really care for cars.

        1. jonsteinberg

          I hate driving. So if I have a few phones and never get a car that seems much more economical and fits with my interests.

          1. fredwilson

            i hate driving too. i have a license and do drive occasionally. but fortunately my wife likes to drive.

          2. jonsteinberg

            Haha same with my wife

  2. ErikSchwartz

    Keyboards are underrated when it comes to doing real work.That’s why I think the Apple Tablet will be a product for dilettantes.

    1. kidmercury

      for sure. for those who approach work with a sense of urgency, keyboards are essential, IMHO.

      1. fredwilson

        That’s the issue in a nutshell. I want to deal with stuff right away. Keyboards let me do that

        1. kidmercury

          for sure boss….in fact if i was a VC that would be a litmus test of sorts i’d use….i.e. if some entrepreneur rolls up with an iphone and just that (no second device), what’s that signal? a stupid ass with no work ethic, that’s what. more interested in the seductive power of touch screen and rounded corners than with getting the mission done. funding denied! don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

          1. David Semeria

            Ruthless Mr. Mercury. Lemme guess… the iPhone was an inside job?

          2. kidmercury

            lol well you know who the carrier behind iphone is…ATT….and which telecom provider is helping the unconstitutional NSA violate the constitution in the US? you guessed it, ATT…..more symbolically, i enjoy noting that when crapple first came out the logo was a man under an apple tree, symbolizing the story behind newton’s discovery of gravity….only later did it morph into the bitten apple, symbolizing the serpent tempting us with the illusion of fruit, but upon consuming this fruit, we realize we have entered a prison…….indeed, the logo change seems quite appropriate, when one considers the technology strategy crapple, well i just enjoy symbolism. but i do dislike crapple and their fondness for partnering with unethical companies like ATT.

          3. David Semeria

            Personally, I like the rainbow logo. Reminds me of the Apple II – school smells, floppy disks and fighting with other kids to be the one who can “do the typing”…

          4. jd

            It’s easy enough to make the opposite argument: Blackberry owners don’t care about product design or user experience. You really think typing long email replies is that important?

          5. kidmercury

            typing is an activity serious business users will do a lot of if they are doing a lot of work (at least for now, in our current business technology environment…perhaps it is different in some niches or will be in the future). so small gains in typing efficiency can mean big productivity results for mobile workers who type a lot. indeed, blackberry users may choose bottom line efficiency over product design and user experience (although for a business user, best user experience = tool that enables max productivity). and that’s why iphone vs blackberry is a signal of sorts of what a person values.of course i was exaggerating a bit as a joke, that would not be the only criteria if i were to be a VC. at least i don’t think i would be a very good one if that was my only criteria. 🙂

        2. jd

          I’ve always thought these types of comments were incredibly lame. As if iPhone users’ work is not urgent or “real”. Newsflash: your guys’ work is not that important.

    2. David Semeria

      Different use cases Erik. I really like the idea of lounging on the sofa catching up with news on a tablet. That’s a passive use – finger clicks for links, page back, etc.For typing anything long, I would just stroll over to my desk and use the laptop.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        As soon as it doesn’t fit in your pocket and you have to put it in your bag why not take a laptop that is so much more useful and in the same size class.The living room will remain dominated by the TV running an OS of some flavor.The opportunity I see for tablets is making them cheap (wifi only, no cellular) and putting one in front of the stairmaster, a waterproofed one in the kitchen, another in the bath…

        1. David Semeria

          I read much more than I type on the net. And I much prefer reading with my feet up!Web surfing on a TV is a non-starter for me. My kids would riot, and the text would be too small to read.I’ve tried using a laptop on the sofa, but it’s very unwieldy and it feels like it’s frying my jewels.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            I’m not saying there’s not a use case for it. I’m saying it’s a niche product. If it was $199 it would be one thing, but the rumored price is $1,000.

          2. Aaron Klein

            I agree, the big issue here is price. And when they get to $99, I’ll have them spread around my house like picture frames.

          3. jd

            Good chance that it’s the opposite: the tablet is the mass product and PCs are niche. Users consumer *far* more than they produce. Tablets are for consuming, PCs for producing.

  3. DGentry

    Have you test-driven an Android phone with a physical keyboard?Right now, I think it would be something running an earlier version of the Android software. I don’t know of a GSM phone, with keyboard, running Android 2.0.

    1. jonathanpberger

      +1 on trying out an android phone with a physical keyboard. Android 2.0 is sexy, but the google integration is the killer feature, and you’ll get that on a G1. If that works for you all you have to do is wait for a modern GSM keyboard phone.

    2. fredwilson

      i tried the Droid but the keyboard wasn’t anywhere near as good as the blackberry keyboard. my dream is a blackberry running android

      1. DGentry

        That seems doubtful. So far as I can tell RIM never even dabbled in using Windows Mobile or Symbian on their devices, when a few years ago that might have made some sense.That is one thing I’ve never understood about RIM’s business model: the hugely valuable part of their business is the email integration with Exchange and the ecosystem of enterprise apps which now work with them. Their monthly service revenue surely dwarfs that of selling handsets, yet they appear to have never made a serious effort to extract the application code from the underlying platform. It prevents them from offering the BlackBerry messaging service on other mobile platforms, and from being able to use any other software base for their own handsets. They only focus on the opposite direction, teaming up with vendors to offer services for the BlackBerry handset.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I agree with your words “serious effort” – but they did try this with Motorola a long time ago and it flopped.Of course, Apple made an iTunes phone with Motorola that flopped, and they gave that approach up too. 🙂

    3. Elie Seidman

      I tried the Droid for a few days and that keyboard is a waste of space.

    4. tsella

      I was *really* looking forward to the Droid, and wow, was that a disappointment.That keyboard is so bad, in my opinion, you are better off with an on-screen one.

  4. Elie Seidman

    Two devices, Fred! The limitation here is not technology – it’s our hands and eyes. We need a keyboard for fast entry but we need a big screen for browsing and consuming content. As the device gets bigger, the way it fits in the hand starts to make less sense for typing – whether or not it has a keyboard. Not everyone needs two devices but I think that many of us – especially those who need to be able to type on the go – will choose to carry two. One that is about the size of the normal size Kindle – maybe a bit smaller – with resolution on the order of 1200×800 and another that has the blackberry 9700 Bold dimension and keyboard feel (I agree with you that it is the best Blackberry ever). It definitely won’t be the solution that makes sense for everyone but I think it’s going to be very hard to make a device that has great hand feel for typing – with the limitations on size that that imposes – and is also a great browsing device with the implied need for a large screen and larger device.And I don’t see a reason why – long term – the SIM should be the limiting factor. Having your phone number be locked to any piece of hardware is silly. If you have two devices but are only carrying one – say at a dinner party where you want the smaller of the two devices – your phone number should be on that phone, not the other one at home.

    1. fredwilson

      a lot of the people i work with in the tech industry have come to this conclusion. i’ve resisted it myself. maybe i have to change.

      1. Elie Seidman

        My current version of the larger device is a Thinkpad x300 with Verizon EVDO and an solid state disk hard drive running win7. Its amazing and a pleasure to work with compared to an iPhone but clearly way too big to be a real 2nd device. If the Apple Tablet is not too big, that will become the 2nd device but I think its going to be too big. I want something with 2x the resolution and 20 to 30 percent larger than the iPhone. Looking forward to Spring WiMax making it to NYC.

      2. ShanaC

        It is often stressed that the last humanity is Interaction Design. I’m in the middle of this book, Designing Interactions. The first thing you realize, it is all about how the body reacts. Then you realize, it is all about how many bodies react.It is functionally impossible to design towards everyone. Everyone has slightly different needs, and slightly different bodies.However, it seems you are describing a very common phenomena: Elie is right- you are being limited by your hands and eyes. And from there, I would say what you want to use your hands and eyes for. A holistic design strategy would take a look at what you are doing with your body and try to design around that, and try not to irritate you into changing so much. The two device behavior is far more common than you think, because in fact, the typing is irritating whether one notices it or not.(You have no idea how many times I would go back to a very simple very small phone for going out because it is small. It’s not a time for when I need to carry my life with me)

    2. ErikSchwartz

      That’s precisely how I use google voice. My main phone is a droid. But GV also rings my virgin mobile tiny little handset I often grab when I’m going out and don’t want to lug a big phone around.

  5. sandytraub

    Using Blackberry in SAVANNAH GA

  6. HoneyBearKelly

    I hear you. I’m having the same problem. Might go with the Hero.

  7. Brian Joseph

    I think @nuance is showing us the future of “typing” on these devices. But that still doesn’t solve the issue when you are in a location where you can’t speak.

  8. DonRyan

    I love the UI on the Droid, iPhone, Google, etc all more than the Blackberry. Having said that, my cell (which is a Blackberry) is primarily a communications device (with large volumes of texts and emails) and for that, I haven’t used anything better.

  9. andyswan

    Been on Palm Pre for 6 months after switching blackberry/iphone/blackberry/iphone. It’s over…for now, to me, the Pre wins.Great browsing (multitouch).Good music control through Amazon MP3 and iTunes.Has the apps I need (pandora, twitter, weather, couple games, etc) and growingFull Google sync (gmail, contacts, cal) and automatic contacts/settings remote backup every night.And….the KEY…..a keyboard very similar in size and feel to a blackberry keyboard for multi-paragraph no sweat typing.Battery life sucks though….like all multitouch.

    1. fredwilson

      the pre is perfect except for a few things1) will it be around in a year or two?2) it has very little developer traction for third party apps

      1. andyswan

        Agree but wtf it’s not like I keep a phone more than 10-12 months anymore anyway lol.It’s my guy til GOOG gets the same-ish hardware setup.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I’ve thought about the same thing and considered doing the Pre but I just can’t do Sprint for a couple of reasons (no matter how much I admire the work they are doing to turn the company around).

          1. andyswan

            I’ve been impressed with Sprint and their customer service.Of course, I was coming from AT&T lol

          2. ShanaC

            I’ve been having a miserable time with them up until recently. I want to know the difference between you and me…

      2. kenberger

        My dev group has a partnership w/ Palm (I sold a company once to Palm/3com). We are doing what we can to take on Palm apps and boost the WebOS apposphere. It’s an interesting oppty working w/ the underdog.

  10. Dave Hendricks

    There’s a double-edged sword in the ability to respond quickly. I’ve found that the iPhone (and I imagine the Nexus too) provides a natural speedbump when it comes to replying to incoming emails.Because I make so many mistakes when typing on a screen it forces me to 1) be more economical as well as 2) more careful before hitting send. Ultimately if anything requires a response more articulate than a digital grunt, macbook keyboard here I come.When I was blackberry based I could type war and peace on it in 20 seconds or less. That’s great for urgency, but I am not convinced that isn’t better handled by the telephone function, especially for sensitive topics where black and white text can be misinterpreted.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s an interesting point. i’ve been on a blackberry for a dozen years so my work style has been strongly ingrained by that device

    2. chippy

      ‘Digital grunt’ I like that expression. Its true too!

  11. Luther Lowe

    I’m with you here, too, Fred. I haven’t given up my G1 (prefer its keyboard to the Droid) because felt like it’s the only “compromise” between Blackberry & iPhone in market. Too slow, though.

  12. jacopogio

    So let’s Google buy Blackberry and have an Android with a nice keyboard ! 😉

    1. fredwilson

      that’s my dream. an android blackberry

      1. Elie Seidman

        completely agree. The BB OS – while better on the Bold 9700 – is dated.

      2. Aaron Klein

        How is the e-mail software on Android? Have you connected it to your Exchange Server as well as Gmail? Does the mail deliver quickly and is it fast to open messages?In other words, can Google fix this by building an awesome keyboard into the device, or is the e-mail infrastructure still lacking?

        1. fredwilson

          Gmail works like a dream on androidIf I had a blackberry style keyboard with an android phone, I’d be in heaven

      3. Einar Vollset

        Well Android is open source, so you could in theory just copy the form factor and voila..

      4. Ryan Power

        what about a blackberry with a glass multitouch display on the back? surely someone could engineer that

    2. tsella

      My wish exactly. I wonder if RIM is open enough to realize/accept the sea change brought on by Android.

  13. Chris Phenner

    I am noticing at an increasing number of meetings and breakfasts with folks within the industry, we sheepishly admit we are carrying two devices every day. I carry a BlackBerry Tour with an iPod Touch, and I use each device for totally separate reasons (and I carry a Kindle in my backpack, for travel).Whenever someone uses ‘convergence’ in a sentence I cringe. I think about kitchen appliances and of consumer electronics. I find the ‘one device bias’ to be so strong, especially in forward-looking commentary, but I don’t think it’s how other forms of devices have evolved. I don’t expect a single-device solution for all the things these devices bring to us.I’ve gotten over that I unload my pockets each night with keys/wallet/BlackBerry/Touch/Moleskin, perhaps because they are my ‘tool belt’ of sorts. I can’t see why I would carry three mobile devices, but I won’t be shocked if I start thinking about how. And I will never put any of them on my belt or wear an earpiece, for the record :)And on the quandry: Keyboards rule. If the ability to ‘think out loud’ via voice-based input can be as effective as keyboard-based typing, I stand ready to be corrected. But keyboards create so much more than talking does.

    1. fredwilson

      well i may well be in this camp now too

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Absolutely.Keyboards – and opposable thumbs – rule 🙂

    3. Mark Interrante

      This describes my usage pattern exactly. (As I type this on my Touch)

    4. Elie Seidman

      Totally agree – you don’t use a chainsaw to cut the lawn though you could. Physical laborers have a multitude of tools – why would our kind of labor be different?

      1. jd

        Because the digital world is much different from the physical world.

        1. ShanaC

          That may be true: however, a digital world is reflective of the body, since we project the body onto the digital world (and there have been empirical studies of that: it’s the reason why mice are designed the way they are: to match your hand!)

          1. Elie Seidman

            Completely agree, Shana. Form follows function – typing is best done on a keyboard so until VR is a replacement and we want/need to type by hand, devices optimized for typing are going to have good keyboards independent of what OS they run on. Someone else here mentioned the email volume difference between the iPhone and the Blackberry. We’ve seen the same thing company wide at Oyster – the iPhone users consume 10x the amount of data. The blackberry users produce 10x the number of emails on average (with the high being 30x).

          2. ShanaC

            Correct on data production. That still doesn’t answer how a device shouldbe designed. Part of the big problem here is that in fact, we have no ideawhat people are doing in total with all these devices, we don’t know whatthey want to be doing with them, and we can’t make a future projection ofeven 2 years out of the stuff they will be doing with them.Having that down will make life so much easier. It’s not about seriousversus unserious either. I could imagine a world where depending on what Iwas doing, say 5-10 years out, where the keyboard is a peripheral and astylus is a necessity, despite my bad handwriting 🙂 . It about who we are,what we are doing, and where we are doing these things. Once we startnarrowing down these questions, design options will probably become clearer.I’m not such a fan of what we got currently. I think we need to rethink theentire picture of what these sorts of mobile devices should look like. Ialso don’t think the first one in market that looks really different isgoing to do very well. It’s going to feel too different, even if it is welldesigned and looks good to the eyes.

    5. Aaron Klein

      Absolutely agree with your comment. My briefcase (which is getting lighter every year) carries a VAIO, a Kindle, Moleskine, and my old iPhone (a cheap way to get an iPod Touch). My belt or pocket carries a BlackBerry.When I had the iPhone as my phone, I’d NEVER listen to music on a six hour plane flight, because I needed to be able to make calls or find my hotel after I landed, and the battery wasn’t interchangeable.Beyond the fact that the experience of each device is optimized for its purpose, battery life is a huge reason I wouldn’t ever go back to one device (until battery technology ensures that I’m only at 50% after a heavy day of usage).

      1. jd

        There are external batteries which work fine and you can plug it in to your notebook.

        1. Aaron Klein

          It’s just a hassle to worry about keeping batteries charged, much less the clunkiness of an external.It’s not like I listen to my iPod every minute of the day. It’s in my briefcase. I get on a flight, throw my earbuds in, and never worry about it. Meanwhile, when I land, I never have to even think about whether or not my BlackBerry will work. (It also helps that I have a spare battery to swap out.)

    6. Emil Sotirov

      Instead of multiple devices with overlapping functions and hardware elements – why not go the direction of the classical PC architecture – one central pocket size computing unit (processor+storage) + periphery items like pocket size screen, pocket size keyboard, etc… (with all the goodness of competing vendors for each device).In this scenario, you don’t need other computers (computing units) – just other form factor periphery devices sized for desktop, living room, conference room, car, etc.I suggested this idea a few years ago in this post (sorry for repeatedly referring to this old post but the theme is recurring):

      1. ShanaC

        I brought that up with someone: You might want to do large consumer surveys before going into market: or it may work the way ATMs did.The reason: People are not yet comfortable thinking that there phones are a computer. (Even if they are). As soon as they realize this even even marginally, they freak out about lost data and security.It’s a market to be made, for sure, but you might want to gently introduce the idea that the phone they hold in their hand is in fact a baby computer. Wait a few years…

        1. Emil Sotirov

          Hmmm… very interesting… I’ve never thought about this aspect.

          1. ShanaC

            It may work in market though. ATMs failed in surveys- but were very successful because pre market placement, the guys who invented them did a lot of taping of consumer behavior in banks. Sometimes people will say things, and act completely differently.

          2. Emil Sotirov

            Just saw a post by Paul Graham (Nov’09) in which he writes:”Could anyone make a device that you’d carry around in your pocket like a phone, and yet would also work as a development machine? It’s hard to imagine what it would look like.”And then Paul goes on by putting out an RFS on YCombinator:”There seems a reasonable chance that handheld devices will displace laptops as development machines in the same way that laptops displaced desktops… Maybe you’d have to make significant innovations in input and display devices. The real test is whether you can create an acceptable development environment on something small enough that you’d be willing to use it as a phone. Whatever the solution turned out to be, the result would end up being useful to more than just developers.”

          3. ShanaC

            So I’m doing a hand drawn render now: The biggest factors I see going intothis isA) weightB) SizeC) KeyboardMy renders will have to be shrunken a bit, and they are hand drawn, (I thinkbetter with stuff in the hand, I’m old fashioned that way)He’s totally asking for something doable: It’s just a matter of what peopleare willing to work with. Would you be willing to work with a flip upclamshell that is slightly bigger and heavier than the Nexus or the Iphonein exchange for having both styles of imput, (plus I’m thinking since younow have this flip up clamshell, you may have a much bigger screen to workwith inside, you might want to throw in a stylus, get as many input stylesin as possible, but that’s just me)If you had to name the top three things going in- disregarding sex factor(you can get sex factor later) what would they be?

  14. Niyi

    I’ve always used phones with keyboards (Nokia, then Blackberry). I I’ve never really gotten the hang of the whole touch-typing thing with the iPhone.I love my Blackberry Bold. I think its keyboard is fantastic. All it needs is a decent browser, and Skype and we will be friends forever. 🙂

  15. Jordan

    Isn’t it spelled “quandary”? Guess that Blackberry software needs a better spell checker ;>)

    1. fredwilson

      will fix nowthanks

  16. johndodds

    Isn’t the limiting factor the size of our hands?The imminent solution: voice-recognition software coupled with verbal dexterity.

    1. fredwilson

      voice recognition is getting betteri use it a lot on the google phone

    2. Guest

      I don’t like the idea of using voice-recognition for e-mail. I personally take the time to articulate a response, sometimes deleting a sentence or re-wording things. This is not something that is easily done through voice recognition, and I also don’t like the thought of having to speak a response in the middle of a library or quiet coffee shop.

  17. Tom Summit

    How long did it take you to “learn” how to type fast on the BB. A month? I think it is partially a training, muscle memory issue and your fingers still are trained for the BB. How much do you foresee a physical keyboard improving over the next 5 years? How much do you see the screen keyboard improving or being supplanted by other means of input such as dictation.There was a time when people didn’t like to type on a keyboard versus a typewriter as well.

    1. fredwilson

      i know. that’s the thing. how long will it take, if ever, to get as good onthe screen as the blackberry?if i knew i could get there, i’d commit to do doing it

      1. Murtaugh

        Sounds like you got your first BB around the same time I did, 1999. My “first” was the pager-sized device that ran on the Mobitex network and I stayed on BB up until the iPhone supported Exchange servers. I share this bc I am now just as fast on my iPhone as my BB. It took about six months.All that said, if we are talking about a two device paradigm, I would love an iPhone and then that old pager-sized BB on my belt updated for much of today’s BB features (full folder syncing, etc.). That was the perfect compromise of size, function, and battery life IMO.

        1. fredwilson

          six months, wow. i’m not sure i can sub optimize for that long

        2. Elie Seidman

          I really loved that pager size BB running on AA batteries.

  18. Peter Lee

    I have the Motorola Droid but downloaded the “test” (it was really a hack from Crunchbase) of Swype. For the past few weeks, I haven’t even used the physical keyboard and now only use Swype. Might be worth trying out if you like it (at least to see so that once its more widely available, you have another option)

    1. fredwilson

      how long does it take to get good at swyping?

      1. Peter Lee

        Learning curve was a lot steeper than I thought. If you are good at typing (ie, you know where the keys are without looking), it’d say it’ll take a day or two to get pretty used to. Probably a week to get really comfortable. Its definitely not perfect (especially for unique works that aren’t dictionary (though you can add words to the dictionary) but better than the plain virtual keyboard.

        1. fredwilson

          all of you swyper’s in this thread and others threads got me to spend the few mins getting the android test version on my google phone this’s the result…thanks to everyone who encouraged me to do this.

          1. Peter Lee @ptlee

            Glad it worked will for you.

    2. chippy

      Interesting feedback. My test of swype was surprisingly good too. Nexus One with Swype might be worth putting effort into but thats quite the commitment, learning curve and risk in my opinion. More for less-critical phone use perhaps? I.e. not for business use. I am certainly considering Nexus One but will still supplement it with a larger device for ultra-pro-mobile work!

      1. Peter Lee

        Yeah, after getting my Droid and then seeing the Nexus One, wished I had waited now that I don’t use the keyboard and just have an extra thick phone. One other thing, I think that if you do more formal emails (proper caps, punctuation, etc – swype might not be great) vs casual replies (that might be relatively long but less formal).

        1. Peter Lee

          I guess the “proper” email wasn’t a big problem. @ptlee

  19. howardcox

    I believe the answer is two divices as well. However, I would suggest the itouch and the blackberry. BB for email management and communication and the itouch for everything else. Itouch does everything an iphone does except make phone calls. Added plus is you are not stuck with AT&T service

  20. Ted Shelton

    My approach is two devices, two SIMs but Google Voice as my inbound number so I can get calls on either phone.You can afford dual mobile contracts, why switch SIMs?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t use google voice because i’m addicted to phone tag and google voicedoesn’t support it

  21. Diego Sana

    I’ve been trying hard to get used typing on ipod touch, but i’m not getting any good too. Nokia e71 keyboard is way better than virtual keyboards. By they way If your BB has wi-fi and can be turned on without a SIM Card, you don’t even need to switch sim cards, just share your 3G on Nexus One with the BB via a wi-fi adhoc connection. This blog post teaches how to do it… . Warning: it’s a battery sucker 😀

    1. fredwilson

      now that’s a cool hack

  22. Mark Beadles

    Bending the analogy further: when you shop for car it’s not just about meeting your checklist of requirements. It’s about feel, it’s about style, it’s about comfort, it’s about handling. And the auto market has enough choice that most of us can find a car that meets our often-fuzzy preferences. It’s a sign of maturity in the market, and a degree of commoditization.I’m a writer, and I’ve got thick fingers roughened from years of playing guitar. I really enjoy and make use of a BB-style keyboard – heck, I’ve used BB’s since the 850. I can type fast, accurately, and comfortably. Then I tried the iPhone touch screen when it came out, and my fingers and it didn’t get along. My wife’s got a Droid, and it’s a little better but still not for me. But I love the other features, and touch actions other than typing are just fine. I also of course love the larger screen. Well, I should be able to get what I like, and you should be able to get what you like, etc. This is why I don’t think we’re going to get convergence on a single platform or interface model in mobiles. I think, hope, this market is maturing too and we can start to get real choice.

    1. fredwilson

      android = choicethat’s why i like it so much

    2. ShanaC

      I don’t see the market as maturing for keyboards though. People seem to think we don’t need them. I’m hoping someone in the presses will get off their high horses and swing back and recognize that in fact, people do need keyboards, and that anything this tiny is going to have I/O problems.

  23. will cardwell

    Try the Nokia N900. It has gotten a lot of good reviews, and while BB has long experience with keyboard, so does Nokia. It may be the phone that get them back in the game, I hope so (want my stock to come back ;). Not sure distribution situation in the US.

    1. chippy

      In my opinion the N900 is ultra convergence that doesnt work out well in practice. Battery life, portrait mode, small screen for web apps for example. On paper and for the first 30 minutes it’s a stunning device but my longer-term experience with it says otherwise.

  24. Ana Milicevic

    I’m starting to think that an attachable keyboard for iPhone/Nexus isn’t such a terrible idea. That would let me use the platform(s) I like better for stuff I do more of (like writing). For the timebeing, it’s BB+iPod Touch for me.

  25. Cameron Cundiff

    I totally sympathize, I’ve had to take on several devices, android G1 being my keyboard mainstay. I have my iPhone for skype and music, and a Peek for emails (due to an exciting foray in the world of no-contract service providers). Pulling out any combination of these devices in public is like a badge of geekdom, but that’s what it takes to get the range of tools I need.

  26. chippy

    I’ve long argues the case that you can split many phone and consumption activities on to an even smaller platform than most smarphones. E.g. VGA candybar for pim, voice, navi, mp3, cam, twitter, mobile web reading, email management. It also preserves battery life for voice activities and lowers the cost of the device that is most likely to be damaged.You then supliment that by looking at a much larger, semi productive and pro mobile computing device that you keep in a jacket pocket or bag that most of us appear to carry these days. THis allows you to 1) Get the best keyboard experience for productive emails, blog posts. 2) Carry CPU for processing tasks and web applications. 3) Screen for videos and efficient web reading/ereading. 4) Main storage. 5) high-end 3G wifi connectivity (big antennas help!) 6) emergecy PC. This is exactly how i’m using the N82 and U820 UMPC right now.Physics simply doesnt allow total convergence and I refuse to cut corners. Swap the navi, ebook reader and PMP out for a decent MID. 2010 should bring us some excelent ones. I’m looking at the Viliv N5 right now but something like a dell mini 5 with slider keyboard or lets hope for an HTC HD2 Pro with keyboard and Android!

    1. fredwilson

      intellectually i know you are rightbut emotionally i want one device

      1. jacopogio

        Yes, just one device ! Come on Google !! On more step ! 😉

      2. chippy

        Smartphone manufacturers have been playing on those emotions for many years now 😉 The Nokia N900 is a classic example of ultra convergence that doesnt work out well for pro’s. Professionals have to realise that two devices is a reality. If the internet is critical to your business you should always be carrying a backup device and focusing on productivity. No?

    2. jd

      I was formerly in the anti-convergence club but I don’t think it’s that simple anymore. There is simply too much value in consolidation which can overcome sub-optimization around the edges.

      1. ShanaC

        I’m just thinking that we should throw some designers and some engineers into a room to tackle this problem after reading this…

        1. chippy

          …and keep the marketing team locked up until launch day!

          1. ShanaC


  27. muratcannoyan

    I love the BB keyboards as well but can’t live without google calendar/contact sync which does not work any where near as well as it does on the iPhone.

    1. fredwilson

      you should see how well google apps work on androidif you are a hard core google apps user, you should really check out android

  28. Peter

    Fred, I won a nexus one from @karaswisher and have been using it for 2 days. It’s beautiful, but a virtual keyboard is impossible compared to my Palm Pre. The WebOS if you haven’t tried it is so much more efficient in getting things done quickly. It’s the little things like swiping to close, or delete, or moving between applications with a single gesture, or hitting a letter to quickly jump to an application or contact.I predict the perfect phone for you will be the Pre Plus when it comes out on Verizon in a few weeks. I’m on the current Pre on sprint, but the new Pre Plus they doubled the memory (will make it a bit quicker) along with improved the keyboard a bit. Have you tried the keyboard on the pixi? it’s amazingly crisp and snappy and I believe those new buttons are on the new Pre Plus. The 1.4 OS will have video recording, improved battery as well, and once you experience inductive charging which the pre plus comes standard, you’ll never want to go back to plugging in a device. As for applications, it’s at 1,111. not 100K, but with their new PDK and finally opening up app development, the next 60 days will be a pretty big rush of apps.I’ll keep giving the nexus one a chance, i prefer the speed of it, and the screen, voice to text, and a few others things. But I can do 4 things in 30 seconds and still be on the 2nd task on the Nexus One. Web OS is that good.

    1. William Pietri

      I’m skeptical that there will be a huge rush of apps for the Pre.This summer, I built toy apps on the Pre, the iPhone, and the G1, just to check out the platform. The Pre was definitely my favorite to work on, if pretty 0.9-ish. Android had the worst developer experience, and the iPhone was a pain with Apple’s restrictions and the decades-old dev tools. But the iPhone has a huge market, and the Android has a lot of openness going for it.From a developer perspective, Palm hasn’t done much to persuade me that they can go the distance against Google and Apple, or build up enough users to make working on Pre apps worth it. And the devs I’ve talked to, even ones who have released Pre apps, mostly feel the same way. Alas, as it really is a nice phone.

  29. Albert R

    Why not get a Droid then? Or see how that unreleased Lenovo’s keyboard is? I don’t know if I could switch from the Droid to something without a keyboard.

    1. fredwilson

      i didn’t like the droid’s keyboardi’m waiting for someone to put out an android phone with a blackberry-likekeyboard

      1. Albert R

        That makes sense. I’m sure someone will be coming out with a keyboard (i.e. business)-centric Android phone soon enough. It seems like it would have a large market.

      2. Michael D.

        You have said that your dream is android on BB at least three times in this post and many times in the past. Can RIM really be that dense NOT to understand that they are close to a mass exodus if someone nails a keyboard on Android? How many times have we seen companies let other companies kill their cash cow instead of doing it their self. If Dell or HP was on the top of their game they would have that BB-like droid phone out in 3 months. Hopefully, there is a SV start-up working on it as we speak.

        1. fredwilson

          it’s so hard for a big company to move away from a proprietary device to an open device

      3. Peter Yared

        i have been using a droid for about a month… the keyboard is nowhere near as good as a blackberry, the biggest problem is that it isn’t centered between your hands because of the cursor keys. but still way better than a touchscreen keyboard, if i have to type more than a few words i always find myself switching to the keyboard. i do miss ripping out an email on a blackberry, but i don’t miss not having a decent browser or a trackball that always fell out!

  30. Randall Kane

    While I am typing this on my iPhone (easier in landscape mode) I also have a blackberry. Would be hard to give that up since I have had one since the original pager style one (still think it was the best one ever made). I made the decision when I truly wanted the iPhone at launch and still felt I needed the blackberry. I knew that if I went out to dinner or such with my wife/family and had the bberry, the lure of the email would be too much. So I simply have my main mobile # (bberry) forward to my iPhone. I can turn off the forwarding very easily and everyone is happy. When traveling I take both but still apply the same principles

  31. Jim Goodlett

    Fred, having used a $GOOG mobi for a bit, I find the hyperbole a bit off…but to your point of the virtual keyboard inefficiencies, for those of us who get over 100 E’s and SMS a day, virtual keyboards are a none starter…have you given the $PALM Pre a try? Of late, my experience with it pops the following top ten (some of them to come in the Feb WEBos update release):0.) full qwerty keyboard with @ and . symbols strategically placed for typing faster…I can thumb type on this keyboard as fast as I can hand write (and a whole lot more legibly!)1.) multitask on multiple apps without having to open and close apps to do get another2.) Need to find a contact quickly, don’t open an app then search, just start typing their name like ACHAN which pulls down Andrew CHANdler with all his contact points – SMS, E, mobi#, Instant Message, etc…directly click on the desired transport layer for the connect to make.3.) My contacts become embedded from all the connection points I have with them…sign into my $AOL Instant Message (or $GOOG for that matter), as well as Facebook, ad infinitum, and my contacts become rich with all the differing ways I can connect with them, and I, thankfully did not have to spend enormous or erroneous time populating.4.) Calendaring brings a mashup of a multiple entry points – Outlook for biz, Facebook events, Yahoo events, etc., all get plopped into one place, OTA, and color coded to help differentiate the input points…this function also extends to when we use Fandango to book/pay for our Friday night date night movie tickets and it sends a calendar notice of time place movie and embeds it into the calendar.5.) Your apps and profile are backed up for free…lose the mobi (or have to get a replacement cuz you bounced it accidentally), no prob, just log into your profile when you have your new one and it all comes back OTA….in tangent, if the mobi is stolen, I log into my profile online and just nuke the phone remotely the next time it is turned on.6.) the amount of your apps’ memory usage is open to the entire amount of memory availed.7.) buy (or get free) tons of apps outside the main store, but with the same seamless OTA integration…smart point here is that they are extending the ecosystem beyond the confines of their border allowing the app developers to embed apps to differing points (won’t see that on $AAPL)…dev is also about 3-4 times easier (time, resource and budget constraints) on the $PALM enviro…check their SDK and now PDK for more.8.) all updates to both the OS and apps, are done OTA so you don’t have to tether it via a computer connect…as $PALM continues to update the the OS (believe 9 updates since launch), the mobi continues to improve and I have to do nearly zippo.9.) use your device as a MiFi (re: wireless router that allows for connecting up to 5 computers to the internet – $VZ gets it officially first, come late Jan, tho quite a number have been doing it with the hack version on $S).10.) though not necessarily useful for biz, gamers that have want to play graphic intensive games like NEED FOR SPEED or SIM CITY ad infinitum, now find a smarting game platform for which to widdle away days.I’ll also say, come Feb, you’ll see the following:A) both $PALM Pre and Pixi availed on $VZ with double the memory plus WiFi availed on the Pixi (Pre already does that)B) watch Flash based vid, and in the midst of watching it, you can pause it, and because it can do multitasking, open another app doing your do, then go back to the already opened Flash vid and pick back up where you left off.C) creating and editing Flash based vidD) in kind, send any vid created to someone via MMS or E, or as well upload to FB or youtube as native integration.E) if you have a SLINGbox, have your home cable channels slung to your mobi via SLINGplayerand on and on and on…

    1. fredwilson

      it’s clearly the best phone out there but if it doesn’t get traction with developers, that may be irrelevant

  32. Murtaugh

    For people that praise Google Voice as the “take your number with you to any device” solution – how do you get around text and MMS support? Can people text or MMS to your Google Voice number and it shows up on any device? My assumption was no which for me is a deal killer.

  33. Joe Lazarus

    I’m surprised there aren’t keyboard accessories for the iPhone & Google phone. Seems like Apple could enable Bluetooth keyboard connections to their phones, for example. Then other companies could sell cases that clip on to the phone and fold open to reveal a thin keyboard with a wireless connection to the phone. That way, people like you could add a keyboard attachment while people like me who don’t need one could stick with the slimmer, standard touch screen.

    1. kenberger

      Yes– Bluetooth keyboard is a real solution for future. Not quite supported yet but in the works, though there’s a good effort / discussion here:

    2. jd

      Lack of demand?

      1. ShanaC

        Doubtful, people buy styluses for their Iphones…

    3. RichardF

      I’m surprised there is no external keyboard for the iphone. I used to have one for my old Ipaq and found it really useful when I was away for an extended period from a laptop or desktop.

  34. evertb

    That’s why I like my Nokia E71.Have tried touchscreen devices (Iphone & HTC) but I just don’t have the physiology that suits them.Keep missing keys and all that.Went back to Nokia and while I really liked the N97 the keyboard position on the E71 just “does it” for me.I can type long emails, blogposts etc right there on my phone.I can do the things I do most with ease.And that’s really what it’s all about.

    1. Murtaugh

      I would have to agree 100%. The Nokia E71 using was probably the best BB -replacement I ever used. So much better than BB in terms of exchange-integration. Don’t know why Moto let Good waste away when they acquired it. At one point they had the RAZR, Good, and the guys’ experience developing the G100. Such a missed opportunity but it’s Moto so I guess not surprising.

  35. Joel Monegro

    You could also get a peek ( and carry it along with your google phone.

  36. cimota

    YMMV. My big meat paws can’t handle the chiclet keys opted for by Palm and RIM.I even have trouble on NetBooks.Thumbing on iPhone works pretty well. Android almost as well (more to do with iPhone familiarity).

  37. Steve Robertson

    I woke up today contemplating this very issue (spooky). This has been extremely helpful. I have been thinking of jumping to the Droid from my BB Tour. My issue is screen size and 49 yr. old eyeballs. I have become a hardcore Google apps guy as well and the Android integration is a HUGE lure. I have had an iPod Touch for awhile and find it lingers in the bottom of my backpack more than anything. I am either on my MacBook when WiFi is present or on my BB. I agree with the “dilettante” remark regarding the Apple tablet and feel the same way about the iPhone and Touch. Not hardcore productivity machines. Cheers all and thanks for the insights!

    1. fredwilson

      i just added swype to my phone this morning thanks to the encouragement i got from this thread…that could be the thing that gets me over the keyboard issue. i will keep you and everyone else posted

  38. Don Dodge

    Swype could be the answer. It makes the virtual keyboard fast and easy. Swype has no learning curve…it just works…better than expected.I have always been a keyboard guy because I use my phone first as an email read/write device, second as a text message device, third as a web browser, and lastly as a phone. The keyboard rules for these tasks.The iPhone and Droid virtual keyboards are passable at best. I put up with them because of all the other features that come with the device. I am just not as productive typing on a virtual keyboard as I am on a real keyboad with tactile response.Swype changes everything. It makes the virtual keyboard more than passable, and actually productive.I agree that voice input is cool, and has improved a lot. But, as an earlier commenter said, voice isn’t very effective when you want to scroll back and edit a word or cut out a section and move it.This is largely about how you use the device, and personal preferences. No one device will be right for all use cases. We all make trade-offs based on how we use the device. For me, Android plus Swype is perfect.Don Dodge

    1. fredwilson

      Great comment don. I’ll have to get swype on my google phone

    2. fredwilson

      don, check this out…

  39. Fred Lybrand

    I’ve had the same issue, continue to travel a lot internationally, and for that reason I still use a near antique Blackberry Verizon 8830. The pivot is do you want to be a rote consumer of information (more browsing) with a nice camera (simplistic information sharing), or is it more important to share precise, text-driven data. If it is essential to be generating text-driven data, then go a step further and stay at a laptop.The right answer requires knowledge of; (i) your inbound data processing, (ii) your outbound data transmission, and (iii) your current portfolio of communication strategies and devices. (iii) is what is missed most often; there won’t ever be ‘one’ device as there are so many different use cases for a product in this kind of retail position.

  40. Aaron Klein

    Fred, that’s exactly how I feel. I’m stuck on AT&T for a variety of reasons, and I’m delaying the move from BlackBerry Bold 9000 to the 9700 just so I have the chance to see and play with an Android phone with a keyboard. Depending on how the e-mail functions, it might work.I’m constantly tempted to go give Nexus One or another keyboard-less phone a try, but then I remember – I suffered through that for a year with the iPhone.And while Android now has the iPhone beat in this department, it was the same story: better web browsing, better media and better phone interface than the BlackBerry, but nothing could beat BlackBerry e-mail and the keyboard.My stat: I sent 7,000 e-mails during 2007 on my BlackBerry. I sent 500 e-mails during 2008 on my iPhone. 14x difference.I’ve been SO happy replacing the iPhone with the Bold 9000. My old iPhone is now an iPod and it works great for that purpose.

    1. fredwilson

      Wow. Your email data speaks volumes

    2. jd

      The irony here is that iPhone saved you a ton of work.

      1. Aaron Klein

        LOL. Would be that it were true. That just meant I had the rest of those e-mails pending to reply from the desktop when I got back to Outlook. It also meant my team had to wait for my replies…

  41. Handy

    I prefer efficiency more then style

  42.  Relative Theory ✍

    N900 has a tv out cable. Which is cool. Linux based too. I think its early all the heavy weight devices are showing their cards.I struggle with the keyboard. Miss the bb. A dual senario is the only way. It takes two.

  43. Graham Siener

    Too bad you can’t port Android to a BB. The newer ones have a good amount of cpu, has anyone looked at this seriously?While we’re on the subject — what if someone ported Android to a Curve 8320 (T-Mobile, with UMA)? That would come a lot closer to Google’s vision of a decoupled phone/provider than their own Nexus One.

    1. fredwilson

      android running on blackberry hardware is a dream for me

  44. sivanm

    After the G1 and the Palm Pre I settled on the 9700.There’s no substitute for battery life, responsiveness and the keyboard on the BlackBerry.I don’t carry two devices. For browsing on the BB I found Opera Mini 5 to be a very competitive mobile browser. I use my 9700 for browsing the web more than I use my PC, that says something.

  45. dave

    Fred, I understand the quandary. I used to use a Blackberry and loved it, but it was never enough for me. I always carried a laptop, and when the netbooks came out I switched to those. An iPhone and an Asus was the right combo, and now the Droid plus netbook (and since Google sent me a free Nexus I put the SIM from my iPhone into it and carry that too because it’s so sexy but it can’t make a phone call worth a damn because of AT&T).Net-net: Still, as always, a fluid situation (that might be the persistent status message).

    1. fredwilson

      that’s right dave. you told me a long time ago that i had to get into the iPhone because it was “what is next”. i couldn’t do that but those words have been running around in my head for a long time. with the google phone, i may just get there. i added swype this morning and am quite excited about that

  46. Emil Sotirov

    Re-posted my comment as a reply below… Note to Disqus – while logging (after writing a reply) my comment came out as a separate comment.

  47. Pranav Piyush

    what about trying Palm Pre? has the keyboard to go along with all the features you liked in the Google phone! I would love to hear your genuine comparison of the Palm Pre vs iPhone/Google phone/Blackberry.

    1. fredwilson

      i haven’t used it so i can’t do that. but i am wary because it doesn’t have much developer traction.

  48. Daniel Levine

    I lack a ton of experience with these kind of issues. But it seems to me you’d like the email capabilities of a BB and the media of the iPhone/Android. It seems like you might be the perfect tablet candidate in all honesty. Perhaps it will be too big for carrying in your pocket, but the media and browsing experience should be great even if it’s just a large iPhone. I suppose nobody is sure if that’s the solution but it certainly seems like the aim especially if the tablet has 3G/4G connectivity.

  49. Jason Devitt

    Fred, you want a multi-purpose device that is also optimal for a single purpose. There are some things you just can’t have :)For a multi-purpose device, the best possible UI is a blank slate. Phones like that are now (or soon will be) good enough to satisfy 80%-90% of the people who currently own a dedicated GPS unit, handheld-gaming device, e-book, music player, or email device.But that still leaves 10%-20% of people in each category who need a dedicated device. You may be in that 20% for email; I am for e-books; a DJ might be for music players.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s very true Jason. but i like to think what i want is a multi-purpose device that is acceptable for a single purpose.

  50. Harvest Creative

    Haven’t used the Google phone, but I have had the other two devices. I think it’s pretty easy to pinpoint the benefits of each device.Blackberry is best if you’re a long email person (can’t beat the keys in a speed and accuracy race).iPhone is best if you’re a heavy internet user (screen function is still far superior to all other options). N1 is best if you’re an app multi-tasker (from what I’ve heard from you and others with the device).I wouldn’t ever go back from my iPhone to a Blackberry even though I miss those keys!

  51. disqus_BwCCK37NC4

    I think we’ll see a time when someone makes an iPhone/Google style device that has the ability to project a keyboard. For the time being, what if you carried one of these with your Google Phone?

  52. billc124

    I have no problems at all typing long emails on my iPhone. The key is to use the predictive text that it does. It works really well and if you get the hang of just hitting space when the word you are trying to type comes up it is much faster. I will grant you that the predictive text is not always accurate, but for me, it is pretty good and I have found that certain words need to have more of them typed in then others. I would say a month is not enough time to get a good feel for using a touchscreen keyboard, and the way each device implements it. For me, after about 2.5 months with the iPhone, it became second nature to me. People ask me all the time if I can type fast with the iPhone keyboard and when I show them how fast I can type on it, they are impressed. I don’t think there is one that is better then the other, it depends on the person. I hate Blackberries because I don’t want to have to rely on them being up for me to use my device. Remember the outages they have had the past few months? I will never use a Blackberry as long as the system works the way it does.

  53. Abe / Outlier

    Really surprised there isn’t more talk of Palm being acquired by one of the handset makers. Loads of synergy potential there, they need a large stable backer to allow them to effectively take on Google and Apple, while any number of companies could really benefit from buying a prerolled multitouch OS. Imagine Blackberry running WebOS? Motorola, Nokia, Samsung or any of the Asian manufacturers would benefit pretty decently too.Other thing that surprises is me is that people still see swappable batteries as a plus. You can get external battery packs for the iPhone that essentially do the same thing, but remove one of the main points of failure on most handsets. If only someone started selling one that also included a keyboard….

  54. kenberger

    Finally you take my advice re carrying 2 devices– it’s the only way for power users!Google Voice is a key factor to make this work.One tip: on either phone if you simply turn off push email and have it poll every hour or 2 (or set to ‘manual’), the battery will last for days (dramatic difference). So for your usage, just turn off the BB push, when u get an email on the android just pick up the BB, refresh the email and use that device only to respond. You also will no longer need to carry that 2nd batttery– the BB winds up being your backup.

  55. BarrySchuler

    I share your pain. Have been Blackberry by day iPhone by night and trying to resolve. Worse than the soft keyboard on the iPhone is AT&T. I also have been using the Nexus One and find it superior to the iPhone in every way. It’s predictive typing makes it a bit easier to type but not much. But Android has some sever mail problems. A major bug that will wipe Exchange, IMAP and POP3 accounts randomly – only solution is to configure GMAIL with your other accounts at the desktop.Every time you go back to the blackberry, you realize just how good it is for enterprise email and the full communications suite. The hard keyboard is essential. I tried the Droid as well but found it clunky. All my travails documented here

  56. sivanm

    Screen resolutions:BB 9700: 480x360iPhone 3GS: 320x480Palm Pre: 320×480 Nexus One: 480x800The 9700 may not look like a full screen device but it contains as much information as the Pre and iPhone. You do need to read it closer though.

  57. David Fano

    That’s ultimately is what keeps me coming back to my Bold. Do you think an i Phone / Google phone with a palm pre like body would do the job? That’s what i’m hoping for. (i think the keyboard on the droid is too wide)

  58. RichardF

    Fred, I reckon you’d have the same quandary with a crackberry if you hadn’t been using it for as long as you have. I’ve used smart phones/pda’s with and without physical keyboards for ages now but my conclusion is that it does’t really matter, a handset is a sub optimal device for typing anything more than a couple of sentences. Fine for reading/browsing and a quick email but for serious data input the minimum keyboard/screen size is probably a small netbook.

  59. Dave Pinsen

    Two meta questions for you, Fred:Do you ever use the arms on the elliptical machine, or are you using the kind without arms?I know you’re pressed for time, but wouldn’t it be quicker and easier to knock out a blog post on a laptop over a cup of coffee somewhere? I had to reply to a time-sensitive e-mail via Hackensack Gal’s Android-powered phone (a faux iPhone with a slide-out keyboard from Motorola), and I wished I had my laptop with me.

  60. ShanaC

    I think we are looking at a problem that requires a radical rethinking of design strategy for computing. You have something small that needs to process a lot of data, output a lot of data, input a lot of data from various sources, and be mobile. It has to work with people. This would require rethinking how people work with devices from their bodies to their lifestyles.It doesn’t look like if you look at most mobile phones that we are really looking closely at this as a design problem that is really important to this era. if more items get mobile, then we are going to have to think how they work in the hands of people that walk and talk and move and do various activities. And how they fit into real people’s lives. We’re going to have to radicalize the phone and what it does to make it productive, and we haven’t done that yet. Not quite. Almost.Time to go to the drawing boards, kids.

  61. mickmann

    Think about it: people have tried forever to create a kitchen gadget that does it all (it slices! it dices!). Attempt convergence & you get an ungainly thing worthy of As-Seen-On-TV. Same w/ mobile devices. Combine all comm & entertainment features into one handheld, expect it to be mobile & satisfy everyone? Ronco folly.I have drawers of kitchen gadgets. Some people are ok w/ 1 knife & a can opener. Others want the latest tool for every task & don’t think twice about switching between appliances.With mobile, we’re at about the stage when cavemen had 1 club, fire and teeth. Add the wheel, try to interface them all & some caver will say “I need a bigger club & I’m not upgrading until it’s available w/ the light bulb.”I’ve quit pining for the unattainable. I’m BB(need keyboard)/iPod/Kindle…for today. Ask me tomorrow.

  62. Portman Wills

    Interestingly, I *thought* I had this solved way back in 2001, with a small Sony Ericsson flip phone and a large Bluetooth keyboard.It’s 9 years later, and none of the leading smartphone platforms support external Bluetooth keyboards. It’s mind-boggling to me. Since the debut of the iPhone, I’ve been predicting that RIM would sell a wireless physical keyboard for the iPhone. They could charge up to $200 for it and people would still buy. I keeping making bets with people that this will happen and I keep losing those bets.In all seriousness though, the end game here *has* to be an open device ecosystem similar to the PC. The Android APIs aren’t there yet, but they should be by the end of 2011, at which point I predict that you will carry a slim touchscreen phone for reading/browsing/calling, and a separate best-in-class pocket keyboard for long text composition.But then again, my predictions are usually wrong.

  63. nshankar

    I am thinking of changing my Nokia E50 for over an year. It is the cheapest push mail system ever and I surely type 3-4 paragraphs regularly using T9 system.The more I get into iPhones, BB, Googles the more I cling to My E50. These are expensive in this part (India). Price makes everything dearer. On top, if they losing in any single category, the loss widens.

  64. DonnaMurdoch

    That is a really good point (about the built in speed bump with the iPhone.) I have often wondered if that would be the case. I carried both devices for years and finally (recently) settled on the 9700. Now I miss my iPhone. I am waiting to see what is announced at the end of the month and then will see what to do next. Tough decisions – but it is so true that Blackberry dictates my “immediacy” style.

  65. robkischuk

    I totally get it, Fred. Like you, I’m bewildered at the Global War on Keyboards. I’m clinging to my Android G1 while eagerly awaiting the next Android phone with Nexus One specs and a keyboard. Pretty sure it will happen and solve the dilemma, as Google has said that they understand that different users have different needs with regard to keyboards.

  66. Andy Lee Graham

    I am perpetual traveler, I am outside the USA for over 330 days per year. I have been reviewing various Verizon International products. I carried the BlackBerry Storm in East Africa, I now have the HTC Touch Pro II that I used in Haiti, and now in Dominican Republic. I have a global view, one notch above normal in needs.

  67. Adrian Scott

    for this reason i bought the G1, which has a i am waiting for the next android that has a gd keyboard, given that the G1 showed up w/ broken accelerometer, and that the speaker or something is now busted…whee. 😉

  68. Mark Essel

    Have you tried the Droid? My co-worker came from a blackberry and is really loving the device.

  69. tsella

    The reason I brought this up: I live by my BlackBerry. I have two hours a day spent on a train, and BB has been pivotal in making those useful. The reason it has had this effect: the keyboard is so effective that I use it as much as I use my laptop keyboard. I don’t need to delay or feel compelled to limit the length of my email whilst using this platform. I also was broken into it within minutes of start of use.No so with any on-screen keyboard. I have an iPod Touch, I have tried using the iPhone time and time again, and have spent about a day on the Nexus One. None cut it, for me.But it is much of a double edged sword – I often feel very limited by the BlackBerry. Maybe limited does not properly describe it. “Missing out” is probably better. With the abundance of apps on the iPhone, even if I don’t really use 99% of what I installed on a regular basis, it keeps me on the edge I believe I need to be on, regarding what is going on in this roller-coaster of tech world. Same goes, of course, to the ability of having a full-fledged browser, another huge caveat of using BlackBerry.

  70. Howie

    No way 2 phones. I will carry one. Nothing in life is such an emergency that needs to be reacted too immediately except true life threatening issues, bets with a bookie or decisions for stock trades. But I agree with the keyboard vs touch screen. I think when we can use brain waves to type that will solve everything.

  71. Terry J Leach

    Fred I commented earlier on one of your post that responding to text messages and email was my main concern about switching to any touch screen phone. I’ve read that Google will introduce more mobile devices and specifically a Blackberry, like Android phone with a keyboard. I think I’ll wait.

  72. maverickny

    Maybe I’m a rarity who hated the BB keyboard and loved the iPhone one. After a paragraph, the BB one always made my thumbs ache, whereas with the iPhone I can blog several paragraphs easily in landscape mode or dash off email replies quickly. I travel with the little charger lead and keep it plugged in on long flights so music can be enjoyed on the plane while boosting it for the inevitable activity on landing.The biggest difference for me is internet surfing; the BB was such a klutz at that for someone like me who relies on it for constant research. Too awkward, slow and time consuming to be useful.

  73. Rob K

    Fred- It won’t help your typing, but you may want to try Doubletwist to get access to your tunes and other media.

    1. fredwilson

      I downloaded it yesterday on bijan’s suggestion

  74. Leo

    I have the HTC Touch Pro 2, which has a keyboard & touch screen interface. I couldn’t be happier with my device. It is a little bulky, but beats having to carry around 2 phones all the time. I used to have a the HTC Touch, but typing with the on screen keyboard was a nightmare. I am a business user and this phone feels like an Iphone with a keyboard to me.