Despite the availability of official Apple-designed and third-party keyboards available for the iPad, consumers are not picking up hardware keyboards when buying a tablet according to a report from DigiTimes. The publication says that less than 20% of iPad owners pick up an external or hardware keyboard, suggesting that most tablet and slate owners do not want their tablet to become a notebook or laptop.
The trend is quite different from the Tablet PC era where slate designs were more rare than the convertible form factor, which often comprised of a screen rotating around a single hinge, to convert the Windows tablet from notebook mode to slate mode for inking.
With consumer-centric tablets, it seems that users are requiring keyboards less. Whether this is due to improvements in touchscreen technology or a shift in the user experience towards touch is unclear. Also, the price of external keyboards designed for tablets is also high, which may be another factor limiting adoption.
In Steve Jobs’ keynote announcing the MacBook Air, the Apple CEO says that the reason why Mac laptops don’t come with touchscreen is because using it would be an awkward experience as users would have to move their hands between the keyboard on the notebook and the display, which is further away than the more proximal touchpad.