QWERTY phones "not being requested"? Poppycock!

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In regard to form factors and physical QWERTY smartphones, there was an interesting quote from an interview with David Akinjise, a product manager at Nokia Germany, in which he stated that "Nokia concentrates on the consumers’ demand and QWERTY models are not being requested that much". I'm more than a little sceptical as to Nokia (and just about every other phone manufacturer)'s thinking here though. Flawed thinking all round.

HTC 7 Pro vs Nokia E7

HTC 7 Pro, shown here in the photo with Windows Phone 7.5, but now running Windows Phone 7.8 (and no, Microsoft still hasn't enabled the homescreen to work in landscape mode - sigh; Nokia E7, shown running Symbian Anna but (now) running (Symbian) Nokia Belle Refresh

The full quote is:

One particular element I found interesting however was that Nokia was not planning to diversify their line to a QWERTY model, presumably either in portrait or landscape mode.

We asked “Does the company see a role for QWERTY models?”

… and received the following answer:

A: Nokia concentrates on the consumers’ demand and QWERTY models are not being requested that much. It is no secret that touch only devices are actually the most wanted devices, and Nokia wants to focus on the customers’ desires.

I'm sorry, but I hear this load of poppycock all the time.

Consumers demand:

  • what they see in the shops
  • what gets advertised on billboards and TV
  • what they see their friends using

At no point in any consumer's thinking does someone think "Never mind what I see around me, what combination of functionality, form factor and operating system do I actually need?". 

Now, I'm not doubting the sexiness and flexibility of full-face touchscreen phones, first seen in the PDAs of the early 2000s but brought into mass acceptance by Apple with the iPhone from 2007. But we've got to the point where it's simply 'accepted wisdom' that phones with slide-out physical QWERTY keyboards are a thing of the past and that touch-only is the way of the future.

It's a fallacy. If 'consumers' were given the choice, a sizeable niche would indeed choose something modern that also had a physical slide-out or fold-out keyboard. They're simply not being given that choice. Skewing what Nokia and others perceive as 'demand' (looking at what's selling).

As tkoola points out on Twitter:

You know what else was "not requested" by the customers? Touch screen phones in 2005 and 2006.

Indeed. "Consumer demand" is a very poor indicator in terms of working out what to build next. 

E7 and N950

Slide-out/fold-out QWERTY smartphones like the HTC 7 Pro, Nokia E7 and N950 shown on this page all have one massive advantage over touch-input devices that tech media rarely appreciate - while entering text, you can see the entire screen. For any phone use that's heavy on messaging or email or office-related, that's a big, big selling point.

Do you agree?

Source / Credit: WMPowerUser