Apple's original iPhone helped usher in an era where most smartphones now offer touchscreen displays with software QWERTY keyboards. In 2007, when the original iPhone was introduced, phones with hardware QWERTY keyboards were popular — remember the Samsung Blackjack? — and Apple knew it. According to Tony Fadell, an Apple engineer who was once senior vice president of the iPod division and who worked on the original iPhone, Apple considered using a hardware keyboard on the first iPhone.

In an interview with The Verge, Fadell said Apple had three different product ideas in the pipeline, the iPhone as we know it, another "iPhone" with a different design, and an "iPod + Phone." Fadell argued for a touchscreen keyboard and believed in the "potential of virtual keyboards" The Verge said. He went on to work on the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS before leaving Apple to create Nest.

[via The Verge]