LAS VEGAS (AP) — If you love your iPhone but would prefer a physical keyboard, Typo could be for you.
But you might want to order soon. BlackBerry, the company that made physical typing on mobile devices an addictive craze, is suing Typo Products LLC, accusing it of copying its world-famous keyboard.
The idea's great: With BlackBerry's ongoing struggles and the rise of touch-only iPhones and Android phones, physical keyboards on mobile devices were headed to obsolescence. That's a big loss for people who can use their thumbs to type as fast as 60 words per minute on a physical keyboard.
Enter the Typo Keyboard, a Ryan Seacrest-backed phone case that was showcased at this week's International CES gadget show in Las Vegas.
HOW IT WORKS: Typo's keyboard slips over an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5S like a protective case.
Its similarities with BlackBerry phones are notable: It has angle-cut keys suitable for thumb-typing. The keyboard layout is nearly identical — for example, with parentheses above the "T'' and "Y'' instead of the "9'' and "0'' on a typical keyboard. Thick silver bars separate rows of keys.
Physically, there are a few differences. Because the Typo case covers the iPhone's home button, it added one with the same function on the bottom right. There's a Bluetooth function on the "0'' key so the Typo can connect to the iPhone wirelessly. A light bulb key on the bottom left gives Typo's keys some lighting to use in dark environments.
THE DISPUTE: In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in San Francisco, BlackBerry Ltd. alleges that "Typo chose to copy BlackBerry's iconic keyboard design" and is making money off of BlackBerry's widespread recognition and goodwill.