Did you know that the iPhone doesn't have a mechanical keyboard? While you might have known it in your head, maybe you didn't know it in your heart. Today, the Times takes to heart what it really means to not have a proper keyboard and goes through a bit of protracted "What does it all mean?" handwringing as a result. Over 1200 words of it, actually.
All that verbiage can be boiled down to two sticking points: the lack of tactile feedback and the fact that people will have to re-learn (in at least a limited sense) their phone's method of input.
Point one is valid. Even Mossy has his doubts about the touchscreen conquering the keyboard. Haptic feedback would go a long way in addressing those concerns—look at the love for RAZR2's haptic-feedback touchscreen.
But the more interesting point, the second one, is that the iPhone "requires users to learn the new system, a task that Apple executives acknowledge may require several days." Helio's Sky Dayton is the primary mouthpiece here, saying that
There has never been a massively successful consumer device based solely on a touch screen. "Texting" is central to an entire generation of people... There is a generation of users who are always online and who don't communicate the way their parents did. They're e-mailing; they're texting; they're I.M.-ing.
The argument's bizarre because it treats a paradigm barely a few years old as one that's solidly ingrained. We've only "learned" the "system" of tapping out messages on a cramped keyboard in the last couple of years. And we're fast learners, we texters, IMers and social networkers. Who's to say we can't or won't pick up a "new" input system just as quickly?
There might be other reasons to doubt the iPhone, but an iron grip on input paradigms by this mysterious "always on" generation is not one of them. If anything, we're as fickle as they come, ready to drop old habits for new toys at any given second.
All that said, some haptic feedback wouldn't
help Corrected: hurt.
P.S. I'm only hard on you NYT because I love you.