While most of the smartphone world has moved away from devices with physical keyboards in favor of full-touch models, there are still some folks out there that prefer the tactility that a only set of real buttons can provide. Those people don't have many choices when it comes to buying new handsets with QWERTY 'boards, though, with BlackBerry being one of the only companies still cranking out keyboard-clad models.
Enter Typo Keyboards. Recently founded by television host Ryan Seacrest, Typo plans to produce a $99 case for the iPhone 5 and 5s that includes a full-on physical keyboard at the bottom of the unit and connects to the iPhone over Bluetooth. The keyboard is more than a bit reminiscent of the QWERTYs found on BlackBerry's Bold series of smartphones, allowing users to combine the hardware experience of a BlackBerry with Apple's iOS software.
Unfortunately for Typo, I'm not the only one that thinks that its keyboard looks like it was ripped from a BlackBerry Bold. BlackBerry announced today that it's filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Typo, claiming that the company "blatantly copied BlackBerry’s keyboard" with its new case. BlackBerry Chief Legal Officer Steve Zipperstein said that while the device manufacturer is "flattered" that people want to attach its keyboards to other phones, the Typo case is "blatant infringement against BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard" and that the Waterloo firm will "vigorously protect" its property from anyone that attempts to copy it.
The Typo keyboard case looks like a nice iPhone accessory, and when combined with the recently-released BBM for iPhone app, it could help to make the transition from a BlackBerry phone to an iPhone pretty easy. Of course, that's not likely something that BlackBerry wants, and considering how much the Typo keyboard looks like the Bold's 'board, I'm actually kind of surprised that it took BlackBerry as long as it did to file a lawsuit against Typo. The Typo case is currently available for pre-order and is slated to begin shipping this month, but I'm guessing that BlackBerry is going to all that it can to keep the case from seeing widespread adoption.