Apple [NASDAQ:APPL] might be leading edge, but they’re not stubborn. That’s the implication of an article appearing in The Register today which has the temerity to suggest that Cupertino might be developing an iPhone with a slide-out keyboard to appeal to mid-level corporate users.
Of course, the notion of a slide-out keyboard on an Apple product is almost antithetical to the company’s design philosophy, but no one can deny the market opportunity: the most popular enterprise phones out there all have hard keyboards because they’re simply cheaper to buy. The execs at the top of the ladder might get an iPhone, but outside the “executive corridor,” few of the tie-wearing masses will likely ever be so lucky. According to The Register, Steve Jobs is already showing prototypes to some operators. And while this design is un-Apple, it is very like-Apple to take a decent product — the traditional smartphone — and do it ten times better.
Of course, such a move would be a direct affront to BlackBerry maker RIM, which is the current standard bearer for the corporate legion device. Interestingly, RIM has been attempting (with great success) to convert their enterprise popularity into mainstream currency with more consumer-oriented phones. If they’re not careful, they could have a behemoth competitor creeping up on them in their own backyard.