When RIM boss Thorsten Heins took to the stage to announce BlackBerry 10 at BlackBerry World in Florida earlier this week, he probably spent more time focusing on the reworked virtual keyboard than any other feature.
That's no real surprise given RIM's messaging heritage, but if you were starting to think that the all-touch alpha developer handset and the focus on touchscreen typing means RIM is moving away from physical keyboards, rest assured: it's not going to happen.
Heins says the new virtual keyboard has taken a while to finish because RIM “wanted to get it right”, and judging by the amount of time he spent showcasing features like the new flick gestures and how easy it is to type one handed, he for one seems to think it's mission accomplished.
But RIM's success was built not on virtual keyboards but physical ones, one of the few areas where RIM remains a market-leader even today.
And despite the near-complete lack of any mention in the BlackBerry 10 announcement, Phone Scoop says a RIM representative at the Florida event confirmed that the company wasn't turning its back on physical keyboards at all, and that the BlackBerry portfolio would continue to offer both all-touch and keyboard-based devices into the future, just as it does today.
The representative did suggest that the first BlackBerry 10 product(s), expected in October, would be all-touch, but promised it wouldn't be long before a QWERTY keyboard-packing BlackBerry 10 smartphone followed.