If you are looking for a smartphone with a candybar form factor and a QWERTY keyboard these days, chances are that you will end up with a Blackberry. Those chances are much higher than they were years ago.
You see, years ago, several devices on different smartphone platforms spotted a QWERTY keyboard in a bar form. We had devices from Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Palm besides Blackberry.
However, in the last few years, most of those platforms have shifted their focus from QWERTY bars. Oh, there are still lots of QWERTY devices on the market, but in a hybrid form that combines touchscreen with a slider. What is very rare on the existing platforms are QWERTYs on bars.
Personally, regardless of how responsive a touchscreen is, I always eventually crave for a hardware QWERTY keyboard. Weeks may pass. At times months. But I gotta have QWERTY! It is almost an addiction. I know several others like that. It is about preferences.
QWERTY bars have always been Blackberry turf. They made it popular. And while most other manufacturers are shifting heavilly, RIM are still holding on to that ground. The other mobile platforms that used to offer QWERTY bar alternatives have shifted their focus and almost left the turf exclusively in the hands of RIM and their Blackberry OS.
One thing is for sure, there is a market for hardware QWERTY in a bar form, and RIM are currently ruling that segment of the smartphone market. Will Blackberry hold out or are they a dying breed? Are hardware Qwerty devotees dinosaurs passing time till the apocalypse?