Idea: Microsoft should bundle a Bluetooth keyboard with select Windows Phone 7 devices

Foldable Bluetooth keyboard with phone

I’ve been thinking about the prospects of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform and how it can compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. There are no doubts in my mind the Redmond giant is seriously committed to drive its “mobile game” forward but thus far they failed to reach the tipping point. Sure developers know Microsoft won’t give up that easily and are porting their apps in volumes. However, at the moment not that many people own Windows Phone 7 devices. So what can Microsoft do about it?

Pitch businesses rather than consumers

RIM managed to prosper using this strategy and they have far less resources than Microsoft. Let’s face it, most of us never purchased Microsoft’s product directly – we got it as part of the computer purchase (with an option to upgrade to full Office suite). Honestly I don’t think Microsoft knows how to sell to end users directly (or at least they’re not as good as Apple) and they shouldn’t worry about that – letting their partners do that work instead worked for them in the past.

However, there are some things folks at Redmond could do to help. They could pitch their phones towards businesses, praising the platform’s enterprise friendly features such as the best support for Microsoft Exchange, best Outlook mobile experience and so on. Moreover, there’s one more thing that could be done…

Offer free foldable Bluetooth keyboard with select Windows Phone devices

I’m one of those people who want a full QWERTY keyboard on their phones. It’s not about the typing — with apps like Swype typing on virtual keyboard can be even faster — it’s about editing documents when you don’t want to have half of the screen occupied by the on-screen keyboard.

Now if we could pair some HTC HD7 like device with a Bluetooth keyboard, we would get a real mobile office. Think about it – the HD7’s 4.3-inch screen gives you enough space to be able to do some serious work while out of computer. And carrying a separate foldable keyboard shouldn’t be a problem.

Microsoft would pay about $15-$25 per keyboard but that would be well worth it. Suddenly they would be able to say their Windows Phone 7 products are business and/or Office friendly. Of course, this presumes the upcoming Mango update brings proper Bluetooth HID support and we hope it will come included.

So what do you say? Would a free keyboard compel you to buy a Windows Phone 7 device?

  • Warren Burger

    I think you should have mentioned that WP7 does not support HID devices in the Bluetooth stack. I doubt this would sell more devices but you should at least mention this does not work today. Brandon Watson touched on this during a recent interview on a podcast.

    • Dusan Belic

      I did mention that at the end:
      “…this presumes the upcoming Mango update brings proper Bluetooth HID support…”

      • Warren

        Sad to say it does not.  I checked the RTM build that was released to developers and HID Support is absent.  Sorry I figured you guys has access to the Mango build.

        Microsoft needs to fix many things to adoption. Event with 25k + apps they need more apps.  To many great company apps are missing like Audible. This ignores they get apps later. Editions by AOL should have come to WP7….that community needs a good app.

        Coding on the platform is easy and faster than iOS but being out numbered in stores 20 devices to 1 is not helping.

        • Brampbell

          I recently contacted Freedom Input about buying a remote keyboard for my Windows Phone 7 and was told the same thing – no HID support today or in Mango.  It is a fine phone, and there is much to appreciate.  I hope MS can continue to over-deliver on their feature releases and get HID in sooner than later.

          • Jpigott

            I upgraded to Mango and tried a new Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard and it did not pair up…

            Typing on WP7 keyboard is way faster than iPhone for me. It just autocorrects better.

  • ANDROID is popular. Why can not Microsoft release an Android phone with Metro UI?

    • because android is built on theft

      • You’re of course ready to back up that allegation with some facts…

    • Microsoft using someone else’s OS? Pu-leez.

      They’ll squander every buck in their war chest before they throw in the towel, (and maybe give that idea to their customers?)

      The problem is that Microsoft HAS to eat their own “brand of dog food.”

  • windows phone 7 is amazing.

    a windows 8 tablet is what you will need, this whole keyboard thing is over. the generation coming up doesnt believe in keyboards. a keyboard with a phone is one quick way to ruin your image.

    • If you’re writing a novel or even maintaining code without a keyboard, you’re insane, but apart from that, most applications can run fine without a keyboard.

      I’d recommend a tablet for the same reason that I was using a 31″, a 17″ and a 12″ monitor back in 1995: screen-real-estate is nice.

  • Anonymous

    Cool story bro, sounds like a good idea to me. Wow.

    http://www.real-privacy.au.tc

  • Swell except that a phone is a “petty cash” expense.

    Might as well let the employee pick up the tab for it and you can reimburse if the guy doesn’t realize how lucky he is to have the job in the first place.

    Then, as long as it does what your company needs, (mostly POP3 mail and web apps,) let the schmuck buy what he wants.

  • lol…. Whatever. I can out type everyone I know on my good old HD7.  I said I’d never ditch my “real’ physical keyboard (back in 2006) and I was a BlackBerry/SideKick/etc. fan for years. 

    Now I’d NEVER want a physical keyboard.  I am faster using my WP7 touch-screen. Windows Phone does a great job of keeping up with my ninja fingers. If you’ve only used Android you just don’t understand. Even the iPhone is almost as fast, but not quite. The WP7 keyboard is just wicked fast.

    Btw, there are QWERTY keyboard WP7 devices. They aren’t selling well. I think you’re way off base thinking this is what everyone wants. Clearly the sales figures say otherwise.

    Oh, and I tried Swype. …Faster? lol, whatever. I’ll take anyone on with my plain WP7 default keyboard. Swype is a marketing machine, that’s all. It’s not actually better, or there would be (lots of) videos showing guys breaking speed records.

    • Jack Long

      From what I have found, WP7 will not support HID, so there cannot be any keyboards for the WP7 OS. The older versions supported it, but not version 7, even with the mango update.

      If you know of a keyboard, can you please post it. I would really like to use an actual button.

      I agree with you statement about the built in keyboard speed. It is ninja fast, unfortunately, this ninja has fat fingers and the keyboard is not one of my favorite features  of my phone. 

  • lol…. Whatever. I can out type everyone I know on my good old HD7.  I said I’d never ditch my “real’ physical keyboard (back in 2006) and I was a BlackBerry/SideKick/etc. fan for years. 

    Now I’d NEVER want a physical keyboard.  I am faster using my WP7 touch-screen. Windows Phone does a great job of keeping up with my ninja fingers. If you’ve only used Android you just don’t understand. Even the iPhone is almost as fast, but not quite. The WP7 keyboard is just wicked fast.

    Btw, there are QWERTY keyboard WP7 devices. They aren’t selling well. I think you’re way off base thinking this is what everyone wants. Clearly the sales figures say otherwise.

    Oh, and I tried Swype. …Faster? lol, whatever. I’ll take anyone on with my plain WP7 default keyboard. Swype is a marketing machine, that’s all. It’s not actually better, or there would be (lots of) videos showing guys breaking speed records.

  • Markbothwell

    It would be useless if Microsoft packaged a bluetooth keyboard with  Windows Phone 7 devices, because Windows Phone 7 does not support bluetooth keyboards (that is to say, the software does not have a profile that will support a bluetooth keyboard.  I have a folding bluetooth keyboard that works fine with my Windows Mobile 6 phone, and with my IPAD 2, but my Windows Phone 7 device (Samsung Focus) cannot pair with the keyboard.

  • Cathy Booth

    I would really appreciate the ability to use a bluetooth keyboard with my windows phone, as I am a fast touch typist using Microsoft office products extensively.

  • Kit

    I worked as a corporate writer around 2003. I used a WIndows 6.5 phone of the era and keyboard that folded a bit larger than a deck of cards. I worked everywhere with that combination. I didn’t need a laptop.  Bring it on Microsoft! I need that keyboard now.

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