Well, this is awkward. While most companies today are “dogfooding” — that is, they’re forcing all their employees to use their own products — we hardly hear of a top executive pining for a competitor’s product. It especially becomes more interesting because BlackBerry is currently in the minority today, with Android having fast overtaken other mobile platforms.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Schmidt — currently executive chairman at Google — says he still loves his BlackBerry smartphone, mostly because of its QWERTY keypad. While keypads have been fast overtaken by capacitive glass touchscreens as the preferred input method for smartphones, there’s no denying that physical keypads do have their advantages. For one, keypads give a tactile feedback, which makes it easier for touch-typing. In particular, BlackBerry keypads are quite famous for their ease-of-use.
Which brings us to the question: why aren’t there more Android smartphones that sport physical keyboards? Sure there are mid-range devices like the Samsung Galaxy Pro and the Samsung Replenish, but these are hardly current devices. In contrast, BlackBerry is offering its latest line with both QWERTY and full touchscreen options (the Z10 vs. the Q10).
Aside from Schmidt’s love for BlackBerry keyboards, it seems he’s not too comfortable with the screen size of the popular Nexus 7, too, preferring instead the bigger size of a full iPad, for instance. Using competitor products is not exactly new, though. Google employees are free to use whichever desktop computing platform they want, and engineers are frequently photographed using Apple MacBooks. Even Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer had been famously an iPhone user even while she was still vice president at Google.
Still, this highlights the more open nature of the corporate culture at Google. This means that while Android is currently top dog in the mobile platform race, Google is perhaps aware that they can still learn a lot from competing platforms, especially if there are features and functionalities that have a solid fan base.
Does anyone still like having physical keypads on their smartphone?