Swype: T9 for touch screens.

If you can believe it, Swype has been around since 2003 — that’s when the technology behind it was first patented. This innovative text entry system for touch screen devices is once again making the rounds at Mobile World Congress this year, and my only question is:

Why isn’t this on my handset already?

Swype certainly has the pedigree to be taken seriously — Cliff Kushler, founder and CTO, happens to be one of the clever folks behind another text entry system that you may have heard of called T9. And it’s not that they’re lacking for money: The news out of MWC this week is that Japanese carrier DoCoMo has added a million dollars to the $5.6 million already anted up by Nokia, Samsung and others.

It seems that the slow uptake on Swype is due to the strategy for releasing it. Rather than making it available for everyone as a standalone app the company looks like it’s going for gold — that is, making Swype as ubiquitous on touch screened handsets as T9 is on number pad phones. This means embedding Swype deep into the OS of a touch enabled device.

From the video above I’d say the technology is ready for wide deployment, and the first Android handset with Swype on board has already been brought to market. So I can only imagine that the hold-up is entirely due to other handset manufacturers’ cold feet.

So long as I can keep virtual T9 as an option on my N97 I’m definitely ready for Swype. How about you?

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