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What is it with the keyboard?

There’s been tremendous advances in digital technology — faster processors, smarter algorithms, different storage mediums, and most recently intelligent personal assistants like Siri — but the keyboard on the desktop and on BlackBerrys survives.

In fact, virtual keypad-only BlackBerrys are sitting collecting dust on warehouse shelves, according to the latest quarterly financial results from the company.

CEO John Chen told financial analysts that the BlackBerry Bold, which runs the older BB7 operating system — is going back into production. Meanwhile the upcoming BlackBerry Classic Bold, running the new BB10 OS and including buttons like the older model, is set for release likely in November.

Why can’t the keyboard go away?

Certainly on smart phones it has except for a die-hard number of BlackBerry addicts. The overwhelming smart phone users today are on Android and iPhone devices and apparently don’t miss a physical keyboard.

Writing on Forbers.com, Michael Humprey quotes a 2012 InformationWeek column on the longevity of desktop keyboards that argues voice recognition will unlikely end up wiping them out because of the efficiency of typing — you can correct a mistake faster with a keyboard than going through text verbally.

I’d also note that keyboards are silent ways of combining thinking and working.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing — people familiar with the keyboard today won’t give it up so fast. As fewer employees have to write long reports the need for a keyboard will evaporate.

I think not. It’s one case where efficiency will triumph for a while.

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