Mobile World Congress: Did the mainstream media notice?

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BlackBerry Pearl gets a fold out keyboard

Proving that even the US Patent office works throughout Christmas was a design filed with them on the 25th of December, by RIM over a fold out keyboard for their phones.

Picked up by those natty guys at Cellpassion and brought to our attention via Engadget Mobile, was Patent Application number 20080318617.

As you can see from the image above it looks as if the keyboard pops out from the existing keypad on the handset. It appears to be activated by pressing a button on the phone itself, all very James 007 Bond. Although we’re sure this is only a preliminary design at the moment, as things do tend to change a lot from a R&D concept to fruition.

Also you may have noticed this design is drawn on a blueprint very similar to the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 series of mobiles. Even if slightly accurate this will go some way to offering up a full QWERTY keyboard, on this candy bar format of phones.

Reading the patent application in more detail, it also appears they’re aiming this quirky invention at a much wider international audience. Referenced as a part of the overall design and layout are other keyboard formats besides just QWERTY.

They’ve gone on to cover all possible bases with the inclusion of a QWERTZ layout for the German market, an AZERTY template for the French parts of the world and even a Dvorak overlay. The latter hasn’t really been seen much on handset designs, but it’s surely going to appeal to some out there. Perhaps those who already have this as their main computer keyboard layout?

How easy will it be to type with, or how welcomed it will be as a feature has yet to be all determined. We’re almost sure it will be ‘focussed grouped’ to death though, before it even sees the light of day.

Either way it could very well be an interesting addition to their arsenal, and perhaps a break away from the two key Suretype format on the current 8100 series.

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