Capacitive touch screens not all they are cracked up to be?

For about 2 years now capacitive touch screens has wowed audiences in the west, but ABI Research rang some warning bells regarding the headlong rush to adopt this new technology.

Capacitive screens, as found on the iPhone, HTC G1 and the Blackberry Storm, are renown for enhancing the touch experience. The lack of Windows Mobile phones with capacitive screens has been seen as one of the major failings of the platform. ABI Research director Kevin Burden however seeks to differ.

“The reality is that existing operating systems, legacy applications, and regional aspirations make the change to capacitive screens for many devices very challenging.”

The biggest issue that is preventing the adoption of capacitive screens is the burgeoning Eastern market, where alphabets are complex and styli are not held in contempt. A capacitive screen or QWERTY keyboard just won’t suffice in markets like China, for example.

In addition applications written for some of the high-end operating systems powering smartphones such as Windows Mobile and Symbian don’t lend themselves to capacitive navigation: there is a long legacy of third-party applications designed for five-way navigation, keypad, or stylus touch input. A change to capacitive screens would make it difficult to ensure continuity and backward compatibility.

Cost is also a major issue: resistive screens are far less expensive than capacitive.

Capacitive screens will continue to make inroads into high-end models,” concludes Burden, “but with the overall market volume still primarily in midrange devices, the resistive screens in devices in this tier will continue to keep resistive technology far ahead of capacitive.”



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