BlackBerry has always pointed to the physical QWERTY keyboard as its main strength, but at CES 2014 in Las Vegas two companies came with two products that could threaten that one advantage. The first is a physical keyboard accessory from Typo that slips over your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S enabling you type conveniently with the physical QWERTY keyboard.
The second product (or technology) is from a company called Tactus and is more futuristic. It is a technology that literally grows buttons (in form of bubbles) on a touchscreen providing tactile feedback just like physical buttons. The bubbles appear only when required like when you want to type a text or email. The buttons disappear leaving a flat surface when not in use.
Tactus plans to license this technology to device makers. However, no company has licensed it yet, but don’t be surprised if you see this on a smartphone or tablet this year.
Typo’s accessory is not that far fetched. Its just like any smartphone protective case but includes a physical QWERTY keyboard that seats on the lower end of the touchscreen. It is also a more pressing threat to BlackBerry and looks a lot like the keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10.
The accessory is only available for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, but imagine what could happen if such an accessory becomes commonly available for Android phones.
This is probably why BlackBerry has already filed a suit against Typo accusing it of copying its design. Typo has of course denied and has even gone ahead selling the device on Amazon online store in the United States for $99. It is now left for the courts to decide.