TV personality and “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest is an iPhone owner, but his latest investment indicates that he's not happy with Apple's built-in keyboard for the device. On Thursday, Seacrest invested $1 million in the Typo Keyboard, which is a physical keyboard accessory for the iPhone that looks eerily similar to the keyboard built for BlackBerry devices.
According to Los Angeles-based Typo Products LLC, Seacrest is listed as a founder of the company alongside CEO and co-founder Laurence Hallier, who is the CEO of Show Media and privately held Hallier Investments. The press release described how Seacrest came to be involved with this venture:
“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!”
Soon after that experience, Seacrest and Hallier decided to take matters into their own hands – to build “an easy solution to the problem, a keyboard for the iPhone” – and after about two years in development, the Typo Keyboard was born.
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Seacrest is already a very busy man: Between his prominent hosting positions and his multimillion-dollar TV production company, Ryan Seacrest Media, the TV and radio host has recently been investing more of his time, money and energy in technology. Seacrest was in talks with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer about content ideas for Mayer’s company, but his decision to put money behind a specific iPhone accessory is certainly a surprise, and a risky one. According to AllThingsD, Seacrest plans to invest more than $5 million in Typo Products, including future keyboards and related products allegedly in development.
The Typo Keyboard, which is designed and engineered in California and Utah, only works with last year’s iPhone 5 and this year’s iPhone 5s – iPhone 5c and iPhone 4s owners may have to wait indefinitely for their own Typo Keyboard. The model for the iPhone 5/5s features a 180 mAH battery, Bluetooth 3.0, and weighs just 1.4 ounces (just under 40 grams). The keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard with keys for backspaces, returns, shifts, numbers and symbols, as well as a smaller version of Apple’s signature “home” button located in its bottom right corner.
“When we set out to design the Typo Keyboard, our goal was simple: Create a keyboard and case that would add the absolute minimum additional length and thickness to the iPhone, while still providing protection to the phone and a butter-smooth, tactile typing experience,” Typo Products says on its website. “The result is the Typo Keyboard, which adds just short of a ¼ inch in thickness and a less than ¾ inch in total length to the iPhone, while still providing an unrivaled typing experience. This is made possible by miniaturizing the components on our circuit board, using our patented TYPOTouch keyboard technology and one of the world’s smallest lithium-ion batteries, measuring at just 1mm in thickness."
The Typo Keyboard has been in development for two years, and Typo Products says it spent that time engineering, testing and responding to feedback to make the Typo Keyboard into the perfect companion and accessory for the iPhone. The company chose the “Typo” moniker because the goal with the physical iPhone keyboard is to avoid making so many typographical errors, or typos.
Typo Products is currently listing its Typo Keyboard Case as available to pre-order for $99 via its website.