BlackBerry Explains The Passport, Its Square Tablet… Phone Thing

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BlackBerry previously gave us a sneak peek at a device that’s as category-busting as the revolutionary Padfone, called the Passport. I expressed my …uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the design decisions made in creating this 4.5-inch square thing with a hardware keyboard then. But now it’s BlackBerry’s turn to articulate some of its reasoning behind the Passport, with a blog post in which it avoids calling it either a phone or a tablet directly.

The blog post asks “Why?” in italics on a line all its own, so BlackBerry at least is aware this is a weird device that has some people, like myself, scratching their heads. The 4.5-inch screen on the gadget is square, not rectangular, meaning it’s almost as wide as two iPhones placed side-by-side.

The answer to “Why?” begins with something about academic typology, which isn’t a great way to explain a design decision for a mobile device in my opinion. But wait! The academic stuff means that the Passport is supposedly the optimal size for reading e-books, paging through documents and reading the text-heavy portions of the web. WHICH IS WHAT BUSINESS PEOPLE DO!

BlackBerry blogger Matt Young goes on to articulate a few different scenarios where the Passport’s unique ID will make it an ideal digital companion, including for architects and real estate professionals switching between blueprints and contract docs; doctors checking X-rays and patient info forms; financiers watching the stock market bob up and down; and writers looking for the joys only a real physical keyboard can bring.

I remain skeptical, but BlackBerry is at least taking a different approach to the smartphone/tablet/whatever-mobile-computer, the design of all which has been largely normalized over the past few years. Basically, though, at this point the only question that remains is whether this is a better or worse idea than the noveltylicious curved screen smartphone.