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Over at our sibling site TheiPhoneblog (affectionally referred to as TiPb, which fyi, tipb.com will direct you to the site as well), the word is that Steve Jobs is kicking around the idea of building an iPhone with a slide out keyboard. Here's the interesting part - more than just polling people on the idea, it seems there are actually a few prototype iSliders floating around:
What he is apparently doing is canvassing the idea with operators. “If you had a keyboard version, how many would you take?” And he has taken this beyond just chatting: actual prototypes - not just mockups - have been sent to senior executives at some operators. I’m not allowed to even hint which operators… but I can report that the keyboard has “issues” which are not yet resolved.
We know RIM will be invading Apple's touchscreen turf with the launch of the BlackBerry Thunder, so it sort of makes sense for Steve Jobs to fire back and explore ways to snatch a few % of the I-need-a-real-keyboard market out there.