Ryan Seacrest invested $1 million to transform your iPhone into a BlackBerry

Meet the Typo iPhone Keyboard

Ryan Seacrest
(Image credit: (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Levine Children's Hospital))

Ryan Seacrest — the brilliant mind behind reality-television peddler Ryan Seacrest Productions, which is responsible for innovative programming such as Kourtney & Kim Take New York and Kourtney & Kim Take Miami — knows an opportunity when he sees it.

With BlackBerry imploding like the core of a dying star, the budding technologist thought: Why not combine the physical comfort of a BlackBerry keyboard with the easy-to-use software of an iPhone?

After two years of development and a $1 million initial investment, the result is this: The Typo iPhone Keyboard, a $99 peripheral for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S that doubles as a case. It effectively transforms your iPhone into a BlackBerry, and is in many ways the inverse of the wishes expressed by President Obama yesterday. It arrives in January and is now available for pre-order.

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Indeed, there is a market for smartphone users who would prefer the tactile sensation of a physical keyboard but would still like to iMessage their friends emojis. While the Typo iPhone Keyboard wouldn't be the first to attempt to shade that Venn diagram, it does look, well, interesting, and promises other niceties like 40 percent more screen real estate.

Here's how the eureka moment came about, according to the press release:

The back story of Seacrest's interest in this — for many of his friends and colleagues, carrying two phones was a habit: One for typing and correspondence and an iPhone for virtually everything else. One night, Ryan and his friend Laurence Hallier, CEO of Show Media, were out to dinner and both had phones on the table. Two people, four phones! [All Things D]

What's less clear is how users will access the iPhone 5S's Home button and fingerprint sensor therein now that it's covered by the keyboard, which is an odd oversight after two years of research. In the interim, it may be wise to keep that second phone around after all.

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Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Previously, he was a tech reporter at TIME. His work has also appeared in Men's Journal, Esquire, and The Atlantic, among other places. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.