Are the QWERTY Keyboard's Days Numbered?

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has a thought-provoking post up which discusses the multiple rumors and other bits of info out there about upcoming devices with touch interfaces–the fabled Apple Tablet, of course, but also Microsoft’s Courier dual-screen concept device and scuttlebutt about an Apple touch remote control and multi-touch mouse. MG ponders all the evidence and comes up with a sweeping conclusion:

"While it may be hard to imagine right now, eventually there will not be physical keyboards."

My first instinct was to dismiss the idea. I’ve written in praise of physical QWERTY; I’m not ready to give it up; I see no immediate scenarios that involve it disappearing. And hey, Steve Jobs himself told me that Apple couldn’t figure out how to make a Mac with a pleasing touch interface. (Yes, I know that Jobs saying that simply means that Apple doesn’t have anything it’s ready to roll out just yet.)

But with tech predictions, the safest strategy is often to avoid being safe. We’ve already seen the death of the floppy, and it’s clear that desktop PCs are on their way to being archaic, niche products. And I’ve frequently predicted that it’s not going to be very long until most people think of the PC as something you can put in your pocket. So I’m not ruling out the possibility that MG’s prediction is right–although I’m guessing that the decline, fall, and disappearance of physical QWERTY will take a decade or two if it happens at all, and that it’s contingent on smart people inventing better ways to enter text via touch interfaces and/or voice input.

What’s your take?

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