Those dudes at Apple sure love to patent things. For every patent they file that actually makes its way into a device that's sold to consumers, there have got to be 30 others that just sit there collecting dust, waiting for an opportunity to sue the pants out of the next guy to come up with the same idea. Case in point? Check out all these variations on the iPhone's touch keyboard that Apple holds patents on.
Ignoring the fact that the drawings all have antennas, which Apple would never slap on a device in a thousand years, you can see that Apple explored all sorts of different touchscreen keyboard designs before deciding on the one that made it to market.
There are the popular three-letters-on-one-button designs, some designs with more spacing between the buttons, with less spacing between the buttons, and so on and so forth. We might be looking at a design that could make it to future iPhone models, but I wouldn't count on it. [Unwired View]