Kyocera Corp. smart-phone users looking to ease the often onerous task of data entry will have a more comfortable option when Kyocera later this year delivers its portable keyboard for the Kyocera 7135, according to company officials in San Diego.
Developed in partnership with Think Outside Inc., the peripheral folds up to fit in a shirt pocket but unfolds to the size of a standard, full-size keyboard. The phone sits in a slot at the top of the keyboard.
Think Outside has developed such keyboards for several personal digital assistant and phone manufacturers, but this one is novel in that it enables the user to compose e-mail messages during voice calls. The 7135 includes a speakerphone, so its easy to type and talk at the same time, officials said. The keyboard will cost $99. It will ship next quarter in conjunction with the phone, which is expected to cost about $500, which makes the complete solution more expensive than some competing products.
"Im surprised they didnt have a QWERTY keyboard right on the device like [Handspring Inc.s] Treo," said Sarah Kim, an analyst at The Yankee Group, in Boston.
But Think Outside has had good luck with the full-size model, which is sold as the Stowaway under the Think Outside brand and under several other names through handheld computer companies. Think Outside has sold nearly 2 million units since 1998.
The Stowaway has been displayed in New Yorks Museum of Modern Art, among kudos for its design, and the keyboard continues to impress an otherwise technologically jaded industry.
"Im surprised at how much attention I get whenever Im using my foldable keyboard in public, even in the [San Francisco] Bay area, where youd expect that people would have gotten used to that sort of thing by now," said Lore Fitzgerald Sjoberg, editor of The Brunching Shuttlecocks, a tech-savvy humor site based in Glendale, Calif. "All sorts of people talk to me about it—young and old, hip, geeky and geeky-hip. Its too bad Im not a more social person; it would be a great way to make new friends."
Officials at Think Outside said the company will launch new models of the Stowaway in the next few months, improving the product but remaining true to the theme.
"Well be doing new products that basically will cover new devices, but well also have a new model," said Phil Baker, president of Think Outside, in Carlsbad, Calif. "It will still be full-size and touch-typable."