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Patent hints touchscreen BlackBerry slider

updated 12:05 pm EST, Fri February 29, 2008

Touchscreen BBerry Patent

Plans for Research in Motion to develop a touchscreen BlackBerry have seemingly been confirmed, according to a new patent filing. Originally filed in mid-2006, the application presents a device which clearly includes the BlackBerry's signature trackball navigation but represents a major redesign of the interface: instead of relying solely on the trackball and building the keyboard into the front face, the new design tucks the keyboard into a sliding tray underneath, making room for a larger screen.

The invention can be used with conventional controls and is designed to rotate the interface on its side when the keyboard is extended for messaging mode. However, the new design would also allow for a touchscreen, RIM explains. Depending on the nature of the touchscreen, either a finger or stylus could be used to navigate the interface. This would provide more intuitive control of the phone while still providing the option of physical text input, all without compromising the overal surface area or making accidental keystrokes.

RIM is not under any obligation to use the technology in the patent. However, the specific modeling in the design points to a prototype for a future production device. While the Canadian company has only hinted at non-traditional BlackBerry designs in the future, both analysts and insiders have claimed to be aware of a BlackBerry 9000-series model that would stand as RIM's direct rival to the iPhone but aim at the corporate market's need for advanced messaging features. Most such claims have pointed to the inclusion of GPS and Wi-Fi as well as possible 3G support for HSPA networks, such as those from AT&T or Rogers.

RIM is frequently considered Apple's most direct challenger in the media-friendly smartphone market and, while largely dominant in the workplace, has just recently been edged out in the home user base in terms of desirability and marketshare by Apple's first cellular device, according to studies.

by MacNN Staff



  1. bhuot

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not an improvement

    That is just going to make it thicker instead of longer. And it will probably break off pretty easily.

  1. gitcypher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    talk about


  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    took them long enough

    I'm surprised RIM didn't move to the slide-out keyboiard design a while ago in at least one of their models. It's been in other phones for a while now.

    I guess it took a real competitor gobbling up market share to get them to rethink design. It may seem obvious, but isn't it amazing how a little product like the iPhone can spur an entire industry to try and innovate again? I use the term 'innovate' loosely since every advancement is just another attempt at copying an iPhone feature, it seems. It's like they say- copying is a form of validation/approval.

  1. SillyPooh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Probably not

    Remember RIM had no idea what would hit them back in 2006 and would have probably delayed the introduction of touch screen technology to 2020!

  1. phillymjs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Prior art much?

    I had a company-issued Windows Mobile based handheld for years that does that, it just has a D-pad where the trackball is. And I just replaced it with a newer model that looks almost exactly like the figures above.

    Old and obvious handheld form factor + Blackberry's OS + trackball = patent?

    Someone, please point out the tiniest shred of patent-worthy innovation here. Our patent system is really screwed up if they get this.

  1. Stogieman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Been there done that

    It looks like my sister's old HTC with a trackball slapped on.

  1. hezekiahb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    history repeated

    At least this time they are actually applying for a patent before stealing someone else's patented ideas.

    I guess they figure the US patent office will grant this considering some of the other patents they have granted recently.

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