I’m now a proud owner of a QWERTY-keyboard-equipped cell phone (pictured at left). It strikes me as odd, however, that it’s the second decade of the 21st century and we’re putting keyboards designed in the 1870s on our pocket phones for the purpose of saying stuff like “OMG 2 cool meet me @ the mall!!!”
Legend has it that the QWERTY keyboard layout was designed explicitly to slow down early typists to prevent jams, but apparently this isn’t true. The placement of keys was intended to prevent jams, and any typist-slowing effect was merely a byproduct of the key placement.
The Dvorak keyboard layout is widely considered to be a superior alternative to QWERTY, because of its placement of letters by frequency of use, supposedly making for faster and more ergonomic typing. Of course, most people don’t even know what a Dvorak keyboard is – and, according to some, the advantages may not be as great as have been claimed.
The longevity of QWERTY on the computer keyboard makes sense – there are billions of keyboards and typists out there already. The advantages of Dvorak – whatever they may be – simply aren’t significant enough to warrant a switch. But why QWERTY for phones? It’s not as if I’m going to touch-type on that tiny keyboard; I’m only using my thumbs, anyway. Even the holy iPhone (blessed be its name) only has the option for a QWERTY keyboard layout, even though the keyboard is implemented in software. I guess it doesn’t matter what layout the keyboard has, since no layout is going to appreciably increase your speed when typing with your thumbs on keys the size of dust motes.