Monday, January 8, 2007

Mobile Phones without Keypads

The keypad on the mobile handset is due for an extreme makeover. Between innovative keypad technologies, dedicated music player buttons and other innovations already on the market, this change is upon us. Check out Nokia Corp.’s so-called “lipstick” phone, model 7380, for a glance at the future. Ironically, according to a recent ARCchart Ltd. study that explores the topic, the technology for this extreme makeover is proven and available today. Consumer acceptance, rather than technological barriers, poses the main hurdle to adoption of a new paradigm.

Creeping incrementalism, rather than radical, rapid change, will likely be the theme of this shift, according to Bill Ray, analyst with ARCchart and lead author of the study, “Handset Input Interface Methods and Technologies: 2007-2011.” In its five-year forecast, ARCchart sees keypads—on 94 percent of devices shipped last year—dropping to 80 percent of devices by 2011. The even more ubiquitous, five-way navigation device—typically, joysticks or joypads with left, right, up, down and enter modes—will give way more rapidly, ARCchart contends, replaced by capacitance detection and fingerprint sensors. (Where current buttons react to pressure, “capacitance detection” refers to a device’s sensitivity to the conductivity of a human finger.)

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