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What Apple Should Have Launched Instead of the iPad (Or why Apple should beg for help from Kyocera)

The Kyocera 6035 with Stowaway Keyboard

Okay, fine, the iPad is neat. I’m not even going to bash it here. But, if Apple really wanted a killer device, it would have launched my idea — the iPhone power keyboard.

Lets face it, the two worst things about the iPhone are a) its “virtual keyboard” and b) its shitty battery life. If Apple could solve those problems, the iPhone might become a netbook killer.

I’m really not suggesting anything radical. Back in 2001, I had a Kyocera 6035 — one of the first smart phones. It ran on the Palm OS, was the size of a shoe, had a battery that would last for a week, and used the only input system worse than the Apple virtual keyboard — the stylus and shorthand stroke “graffiti” system. Accordingly, while the 6035 was awesome for its ability to keep me email connected, I found that I would usually just call the person back, or receive an email and then run to a computer to reply.

Ah… but enter the fold up keyboard.

Stowaway made a keyboard that folded in fourths, was about four inches square, and gave you a full QWERTY keyboard, with as much (if not better) tactile response as a modern Apple chiclet keyboard. Not only that, the device came with a little stand connector, so your 6035 stood up straight when you had the keyboard attached. For most trips, I just stopped carrying my laptop – as the 6035 and the stowaway did the job. Sure the phone was ridiculously large, the web browsing was primitive at best (but so were websites at the time), and the connection speed was super slow. But, I could look at my phone, check my email, and then if I had to do a long reply (or even draft a longer document), I could just open my briefcase, unfold the keyboard, pop the 6035 into the thing, and bust it out. The battery, as I said, lasted forever. But, you could also pop open the back and swap out the battery, so I always carried two batteries in my briefcase along with the keyboard.

In 2004, Kyocera came out with a color version of the 6035 – the 7135. This gave us a brighter (color) screen and an SD expansion card slot. Unfortunately, the battery life left a little to be desired, but since Kyocera kept the user-changeable battery thing, I just bought three batteries. I can’t remember ever needing to use the third, but I’m paranoid about loss of power. To round out the perfection, my Stowaway keyboard worked with it, once I paid $15 for an adapter cable.

I won’t even bother to bitch about the fact that Apple won’t let you change your own battery. That complaint clearly will never resonate at a tone that Apple can hear, and would require a complete redesign of the iPhone. But, what about the keyboard?

There has been plenty of bitching for a bluetooth keyboard. Ryan Faas says that Bluetooth keyboard support for the iPhone would be a “game changer.”

I call bullshit.

Why in the name of the FSM would anyone want a bluetooth keyboard for their iPhone? Yeah, that would be awesome. The iPhone already sucks more energy than a vampire girlfriend who hates her father and just ran out of prozac. Now these wide-rimmed glasses wearing 120 lb hipster idiots want to turn on the bluetooth in the iPhone, adding to its power suckage, and then also carry around another device with — you guessed it, more batteries?


What would be better? Go find Kyocera and Stowaway and ask them for help. Imagine a Stowaway keyboard, with a goddamned WIRE and a STAND (so the iPhone is FACING you when you type, not lying flat on the table. That would be cool enough, but imagine this…. since you’re carrying a keyboard anyhow, why not make the keyboard with a battery port.

Wait, didn’t I just complain about carrying more batteries?

Yeah, I did… but see in MY keyboard, the batteries would be there to CHARGE THE iPhone while you work! And, the thing might even come with a battery eliminator plug that would … wait for it… use a connector that you ALREADY HAVE, like the iPhone cable.

If we had that, I could probably get by without my laptop on at least 75% of my business trips. What would that mean? No more taking the laptop out of the carrying case for the TSAtards, elimination of another couple of pounds of stuff, maybe even eliminating the need to take an overhead bin on a plane!

And of course, while Apple is at it, maybe they could ask Kyocera how they managed to put an expansion card slot in the 7135.

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