Nokia poll says QWERTY keyboards still rule

by: LucianAugust 11, 2012
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Nokia has run an online poll on their official blog, asking people whether they prefer a QWERTY keyboard, a touchscreen, a number keypad, or voice control as their favorite way of controlling their device. The data may seem surprising at first, considering how many of us today cannot imagine using anything but a touchscreen as our preferred input method. But when you realize where this is coming from, it’s not so surprising anymore. It is, in fact, expected.

Nokia’s data shows that the majority of users prefer QWERTY keyboards —  almost half of the online respondents on their site, at 48.64%. The touchscreen-loving people make up a pretty distant 34.69%, while  number keypad and voice control get 8.91% and 7.75%, respectively.

Let’s take this with a grain of salt. I think this data may not be very relevant for either today’s markets nor future smarphone users. Look where the data is coming from: Nokia’s official blog. It’s a company that, so far, has not yet mastered the touchscreen phone. Nokia still sells a lot of phones with either a QWERTY keyboard (they used to have some really popular devices with it) and the number keypad.

It’s quite expected that Nokia fans and users — the vast majority of them who aren’t used to Nokia selling and promoting touchscreen phones — would say they prefer QWERTY over touchscreens, because that’s all they know coming from Nokia. It’s almost like RIM doing a poll right now for their users and asking them if they prefer using a keyboard or a touchscreen. I think we all know what the majority of them would say.

There is an inherent problem with doing polls like these for your own customers (and make no mistake, both Nokia and RIM have been asking their users questions like these for years). When the rules of the market change, and “something else” is the future of the market, the vast majority of your users, if asked, would still say they prefer the old way of doing things. At least this is the case in the first few years after the rules start changing.

It’s human nature to dislike change, and in the beginning, only the “early adopters” get on board.

This is why both Nokia and RIM have been blind for years about the fact that neither Symbian nor the BlackBerry OS were good enough for the new age of the touchscreens. Most of their customers are still telling them that they want to keep doing things the same way, and to change nothing. But look where that has gotten both Nokia and RIM. They’re almost to the point of bankruptcy. That’s because sooner or later, the new way of doing things will start chipping away at the old way of doing things, and people move on.

So are there people out there that still prefer QWERTY keyboards? Definitely. Does Nokia’s poll represent the whole market currently, or more importantly the future of the market? Definitely not.

The future of phones is in touchscreens, and that should’ve been obvious to all phone manufacturers from the day the iPhone came out. Android entering the scene only accelerated this trend greatly. Plus, as time goes by — and as virtual keyboards become better and better — more QWERTY keyboard lovers will start switching to touchscreen phones. It’s inevitable.

Image credit: QWERTY keyboard / Shutterstock

  • LAmDroid

    i think if they actually cared enough to invest in a quality qwerty hi end device and offer even 1/3 the availability of purely touch devices, you will see that POSSIBLY even as much as 50% still want the slider.

    Touch Slate devices have forced themselves onto consumers where it’s hard to even consider qwerty anymore even if it’s your preference since there’s such a limited number of handsets available. The best ones come from Moto, which is further limited by only being on verizon, while other qwertys are released as low-end to mid-range devices from the start. It’s just far easier (thus cheaper) to produce/design/warranty devices that are just pure slate.

    I come from qwerty, i still prefer it. I went from an HTC 8125 to a MotoDroid. then with reluctance, upgraded to a Droid3 to keep my qwerty despite disliking Moto’s software habits.

    But Im done. restrictive software and lower end hardware on qwertys have become far too irritating that Im willing to give it up for either an easily hackable skinned Touch Slate, or embrace google’s vision of a Nexus with a heavy heart missing my Qwerty.

    • FrazerMcIntosh

      I’m really hoping that if the rumors of multiple Nexus devices this year are true, at least one will be a QWERTY slider.

      • z0phi3l

        I highly doubt Google will release anything with a physical keyboard, they are trying hard to do away with physical buttons, why reverse yourself for a keyboard?

        • FrazerMcIntosh

          I hadn’t thought of that, but 1) I think that if there are multiple Nexuses, it would make sense for at lease one of them to be a QWERTY slider. 2) THey are only trying to get rid of physical navigation keys. camera and volume buttons are still encouraged, so why not physical keyboards?

  • GBGamer

    I agree with LAmDroid. The Galaxy Blaze Q looks awesome, if it does come with an S4, but if I had a 4.3″ qwerty device, with a quad core exynos/OMAP, and 1-2gb of RAM, I’d buy it over any phone with similar insides. I have a G1. I use it. You know why? Hardware keyboard.

  • Michael Koch

    When I bought my first Smart phone two years ago, I specifically waited for the Moto Droid 2 because of its slide out qwerty key pad. Now I’m looking to upgrade to 4G LTE, so I’ll wait for the Droid 5 to come out….. I use the key pad voraciously, and wouldn’t buy a phone without one……….

  • Beaver

    I myself prefer a qwerty keyboard. I dislike touchscreen for texting and writing emails. But I don’t mind if the phone has a capacitative touchscreen. I definitely want an Android so I’m waiting for Motorola Defy Pro to arrive soon here in Canada.

  • Lame

    Hey Lucian. Guess what? You are wrong. It is not inevitable. I use my physical keyboard/phone instead of a laptop. Try that on your touchscreen. Let’s have a race…you and me…to type a five paragraph email on our phones and see who wins.

    Instead of arrogantly acting like you know what you are talking about as it relates to physical keyboards, what you should be writing about is a comparison of how people use their device. Phone and Texting mostly? Touchscreen is fine. Writing Legal Contracts? Touchscreen is not going to cut it.

    Right now the reason physical keyboards appear to have gone out of fashion is because most current smartphone users use their device as a phone primarily AND because of Apple’s brilliant marketing. At some point Apple will will release a device with a physical keyboard and they will act as if they invented it. Then they will proceed to try to sue all other physical keyboard makers. Then it will become fashionable and cool to use a device with a keyboard and then this article will become even more irrelevant than it is now.

    • curiousegg

      LOL at “apple will act as if they invented it and sue other physical keyboard makers” so typical of it! apple is so losing my respect. it’s kind of sad!

    • funtikar

      Yep agreed, typing on touchscreen is still bad idea even though it has a relatively large capacitive touchscreen. Because touchscreen are very popular people just embrace it. Most of my friend other than their android device they also have a blackberry smartphone.

    • dopadapo

      Which phone is used by Lucian Armasu ?? Fully touch-screen or physical qwerty ?? You can guess. Actually, he didnt talk about Nokia or BB customers only, but also about HIMSELF as a touch-screen lover. hahaha.

  • Imho, I used to prefer a physical keyboard, especially after using Apple’s native one, the only good thing it had was autocorrect, but that was fairly stupid as well… when I switched to android (after being disappointed with the 3g, 3gs, and 4, then being saddened by the 4s) I found Swype… from then on I can’t imagine going back to a qwerty physical keyboard. Now I personally won’t look at a device with a physical one. That said my gf only likes physical ones… so really it’s not a matter of what’s better, but one of personal opinion only. There will be a market for a quality implementation of physical keyboards, but I do think that as technology improves that market will shrink, just like the market for non smart phones is now… just my 2 cents…

  • Clark

    I strongly disagree with your opinion. I am very used to the Lumia 800 and have tested it out extensively. It is a great phone but when it comes to writing mails, sms or internet then it is lacking a physical keyboard. it is so easy to miss the right keys and it is impossible to type without looking at the screen as you get no tactile feedback. Another advantage of a slider phone is that you don´t lose half of the screen to the keyboard. Don´t get me wrong: Touch is great for quick navigation for opening aps etc. But when it comes to a office like usage scenario a physical keyboard is mandatory. So I really know about Nokias touch products I have tested them and they failed in this certain aspect. So I gonna wait until they release a E7 or N800 like Windows Phone. (Or any other company).