By: Lauren Saccone
Microsoft has been on a roll as of late. The company has been successfully holding it’s own against Apple in the war for consumers. With retail stores designed for convenience and coolness, and popular new products on the market, the company is riding higher than it has been in a while. But their newest effort may prove to be more eccentric than innovative.
A leaked report from a Microsoft Research presentation has revealed that the next endeavor for the company may take the form of a curved keyboard for smartphones. Instead of the standard layout familiar to most users, Microsoft’s new design features an arched form that can be used with one thumb instead of two. The letters are clustered together in sets of three, and predictive text helps users to get their messages out quickly.
According to the report, which was released by WMPowerUser, the new keyboard could potentially appear on the Windows Phone 8, which is due out this fall. The unconventional design would be a major selling point against the popular iPhone, which uses the traditional keyboard format. One-handed speed typing sounds convenient and fun, but people tend to be notoriously suspicious of new keyboards. Innovations in that field are rarely met with positive reactions from the masses – most people stubbornly stick to the conventional format, no matter how many interesting shapes and styles developers try to include.
Technology develops at an alarmingly fast rate that can leave consumers overwhelmed. One of the greatest consistencies remains the keyboard. Dramatic changes in that field almost never work out for the companies, who find people falling back to the familiar style they feel comfortable working with.
But as texting becomes the primary way people communicate via phones, a one-handed keyboard could well prove to be the format of the future. People are always looking for fast and effective ways to communicate. The keyboard is one of the few aspects of technology that stubbornly refuses to evolve. This could be the start of a revolution in that field.
Experts suspect that, should the curved keyboard be released, it would only be a secondary option to the standard format. Microsoft wouldn’t risk alienating the entire market with an unfamiliar – and possibly unwanted – new style.
Microsoft has refused to comment on the validity of the leaked information. Instead, they’ve been focusing on the Windows 8 features that have already been confirmed. Among these are the expected improved hardware support and new apps. So far nothing incredibly innovative has been offered for the new smartphone operating system, leading some to expect that the curved keyboard will be their big reveal.
Microsoft’s situation perfectly exhibits the delicate balance companies must walk to keep customers happy. On one hand, people want new technology that makes their lives easier. On the other, consumers are reluctant to try anything that is completely outside their comfort zone. If Microsoft does intend to market the curved keyboard, they’ll need to make their radical new design user friendly.
Maybe the curved keyboard can come with complimentary typing lessons.
[Pic via Flickr - Titanas]