BlackBerry is winning its battle to keep the BlackBerry-style Typo keyboard out of iPhone users’ hands.
Typo is a $99 Bluetooth keyboard that snaps onto Apple’s iPhone. Much like BlackBerry’s iconic smartphones, Typo’s keys sit on the bottom when the phone is held in portrait mode, and have rounded edges on the inner-top corners to help guide the user’s fingers. Typo, which was co-founded and backed by Ryan Seacrest, showed off its keyboard at CES in January, though it was already being sued at that point.
Last week, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick granted Blackberry’s request for a preliminary injunction against Typo, barring the keyboard from sale while the case plays out. Orrick didn’t buy Typo’s arguments that BlackBerry was losing market share anyway, and therefore had “limited goodwill to lose,” the New York Times reports.
Typo could resume sales if it prevailed in the case, but that seems unlikely. Orrick said BlackBerry “established a likelihood of proving that Typo infringes the patents at issue and Typo has not presented a substantial question of the validity of those patents,” according to Recode. Typo plans to appeal, though the company has said that it may go out of business if it can’t fulfill orders. As it stands, Typo has sold about 4,000, suggesting that the vast majority of iPhone users are happy enough typing on a touchscreen.
If it’s any consolation, Typo didn’t win us over when we tried it at CES. Because the iPhone is narrower than BlackBerry’s smartphones, the keys are much more cramped, and they feel spongier as well. Bluetooth also isn’t the most elegant approach, as it requires a pairing process and a separate USB charger for the case itself.
Still, BlackBerry’s court victory could prevent Typo from coming out with improved products over time, and may scare away other startups. Given that BlackBerry’s new turnaround plan involves a bigger focus on keyboard-equipped phones, the message is clear: If you want a smartphone with a good physical keyboard, you shouldn’t bother with an iPhone.