BlackBerry Torch [Updated]

Oh, RIM. Adding a multi-touch display while keeping the slide-out physical keyboard demonstrates that you don’t truly get the iPhone aesthetic. When Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007, he noted that the problem with smartphone user interfaces is in the collection of  buttons in the “bottom 40.” Here’s why.

First, they’re always there. They don’t get out of the way when you don’t need them. RIM and others have decided that the solution is to put the lot on a sliding tray that can be hidden behind the touch screen. It’s a logical choice but not the best one. If  your fingers are already on the touchscreen, why move them off to enter text? Plus, you’ve added a moving part that’s going to eventually break.

Also, Steve asked, what happens six months from when you get a great idea that requires a new button? You can’t add it because the devices have already shipped.

RIM’s hesitation is grounded in fear that users will complain loudly if they take the that keyboard away. Apple never had it and can’t keep iPhones on the shelves. It’s time, RIM. Lose the keyboard.

Update: Scott McNulty notes that the physical keyboard makes email much more useable. I haven’t used one for email, but I trust his judgement.