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BlackBerry hangs on by a keyboard

Visitors try out BlackBerry smartphones at the Blackberry stand on the first day of the CeBIT 2012 technology trade fair on March 6, 2012 in Hanover, Germany.

Google's Android and Apple's iPhone are vying for number one and two in the smart phone market. In a distant but still impressive third? Blackberry, which has 11 percent of the market.

There are 90 million BlackBerry users around the world, but who are they?

BlackBerry users tend to be older. According to Comscore most BlackBerry users in the U.S. are 35-years-old and up, and BlackBerrys are often used for work.

"You know it's happened to me several times where I've taken out my BlackBerry and somebody goes, 'oh you still use a BlackBerry, are they still around?'"

Kyle McInnes, editor-in-chief of Blackberrycool.com, says he isn't required to use a BlackBerry but he's tired of being judged for it: "Do you pull out a Gillette razor and say, 'oh you only use a Gilette? How uncool of you?'"

McInnes says a lot of BlackBerry users choose it because of the keyboard, he can type faster with it than a virtual one. "You can't beat a physical keyboard," he adds.

You hear that all the time from BlackBerry users -- their dedication to the physical keyboard is almost cultish.

Morita O'Brien, an engineering psychologist at the University of Alabama, says since the modern typewriter was invented more than 100 years ago, typing has been a motor skill. Humans have adapted the way we think to the physical feedback of the keyboard. The touch screen has disrupted that and made typing a visual skill. O'Brien notes people doing serious work are plugging real keyboards into their tablets and even smartphones.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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