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Keyboards going the way of the dodo?

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Anyone who has used a computer has used a keyboard.  Before that, it was a typewriter.  We as a society are all familiar with keyboards.  We type on them everyday.  Its the input device of choice, combined with a mouse, to enter data into our computer and make our day productive.  Well, this is us now, what about in 5 years?  Well, if the new Gartner study has anything to say, keyboards will go the way of the dodo bird, doomed to extinction by touch screen devices.  Who is going to bring about this change?  The tweens.  The 13-15 year olds who will emerge in 5 years who will be used to an iPhone, and iPad, and other touchscreen devices.

According to their latest study, Gartner has said that more than half of PCs purchased for use by under 15s in 2015 will have touchscreen.

“Multitouch on smartphones and the Apple iPhone phenomenon have shown users how useful touch can be with the right implementation, and Apple’s introduction of the larger iPad has set off a wave of speculation about changing the industry,” said Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner.

“What we’re going to see is the younger generation beginning to use touchscreen computers ahead of organisations.”

Gartner said the “muscle memory of mouse users and the potential problems of moving a user’s hands from the keyboard to the mouse will create particular adoption barriers” in business use.

“As with many recent technology advances, touch adoption will be led by consumers and only gradually get accepted by the organisation,” Fiering said.

“What will be different here is the expected widespread adoption of touch by education, so that an entire generation will graduate within the next 10 to 15 years for who touch input is totally natural.”

I don’t know how I feel about that.  I am used to a keyboard.  I am a touch typist, so a keyboard just works for me.  I use a touchscreen on my iPod Touch and my G1.  It took a little getting used to, but I mostly have the hang of it. I only swear at them occasionally now, instead of hourly.  Would I miss a keyboard?  I am not sure.  I typed on the new iPad recently and it was fairly responsive for me.  It needs a little work to feel like my Logitech keyboard.  I like feeling the resistance of keys and the “click” noise they make when typing.  Will touchscreens take over?  We’ll see what consumers have to say.

A 15-year veteran of the tech wars, Amy is a gadgetgrrl from way back. Amy is started with the her first PDA, a Palm Pilot III all the way through her current sidearm, a T-Mobile G1. She suffers technolust like any good gadgetgrrl, but its always tempers with whether it will match her shoes and handbag. She bounces from one device to another. She is an OS agnostic-- liking them all for different reasons. She has seen it all and wants to see more.

4 Comments

  1. borax99 (AlainC.)

    04/07/2010 at 1:30 pm

    Hmmm, I think tactile and audio feedback are more important than we assume and will be around for awhile yet. Call me old-fashioned, but the Atlantis word processor was a revelation for me – primarily because it generates old-timey typewriter sounds when writing with it !!!

    It’s not just my imagination either, I actually get more done with this type of audio feedback. (Drives colleagues and spouses up a wall though, so I recommend headphones if you’re not alone)

  2. Gavin Miller

    04/07/2010 at 3:30 pm

    Uh huh. When those tweens grow up and become journalists, authors, coders, consultants, in fact anyone who has to type reports, manage spreadsheets, databases or in fact any other common business use, I don’t think their ‘gesture’ skills will be much use.

    ‘Gartner said the “muscle memory of mouse users and the potential problems of moving a user’s hands from the keyboard to the mouse will create particular adoption barriers” in business use’. Gartner make money from spouting guff like this! Muscle memory indeed.

    The problem is that many bloggers and analysts only look at this from a narrow perspective. Because many professional bloggers can get by using using a twitter app on the iPhone or WordPress on Android they forget that this has absolutely no bearing in the ‘real’ world where reports need to be typed, code needs to be written and databases need to be updated. Keyboards and mice will be with us for a long time to come.

    Besides, you can’t get rid of the finest gaming devices known to humankind that easy!

  3. Nameless

    04/07/2010 at 11:52 pm

    That’s not happening as long as touchscreens remain unable to provide the tactile feedback of a real keyboard.

    Go ahead, pretend to touch-type on a flat glass surface and tell me that it DIDN’T murder your fingers.

    It’s actually one of the main reasons I can’t really stand pure slate Tablet PCs much. Sure, I love having that pen for non-plain-text input, but being a touch-typist on a real keyboard helps a lot with all the essays they throw at students like myself.

    (Also, I think I see an IBM Model M in that keyboard pile. Judging from the file name, how could someone manage to break one of those? I just don’t see that happening to one of the rugged older Model Ms unless you’re actually TRYING to break it.)

  4. SAM

    04/08/2010 at 10:58 am

    Maybe he thinks no one will read stuff in the future…
    {sarcasm}

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