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Rumors have been flying that Apple is considering teaming up with a company building customizable keyboards with individual E-ink keys, but the claims, including alleged "confirmations," appear to spring from a single report that may be little more than self-promotion of an upcoming product.
In September, AppleInsider was informed that Sonder, a company attached to the Foxconn accelerator program, had demonstrated a keyboard with individual keys composed of small E-ink displays. This would allow for users to customize the keyboard with associated graphical adornments displayed on each key.
Sonder has officially denied that the company has met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, but would "would very like the opportunity[sic]" to do so.
A lengthy Reddit thread ensued from the source that tipped us, with much confusion by readers about what the keyboard demonstrated represented, or if it was an Apple product. After investigation, AppleInsider determined that it was a pre-production prototype of an upcoming stand-alone cross-platform keyboard, and not an Apple prototype — and this is borne out by the source's own remarks on the matter in the thread, and Sonder's own remarks on the matter.
On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal reported on the company's keyboard, and a rumored presentation of the technology to Apple CEO Tim Cook while he was touring China recently. The Journal cites other media outlets' coverage on the same Reddit thread as "confirmation" that the product is an Apple prototype, and that the company is being examined for a potential buyout, potentially to debut in MacBooks as soon as 2018.
However, on Monday Sonder denied that the company has met with Cook, but would "would very like the opportunity[sic]" to do so.
The data on Reddit presented by the original poster about the presentation of the keyboard, as well as some claims by the original poster that the company was going to be purchased by Apple, were deleted a few days after the original post.
Apple and customizable keyboards
Officially, Apple has no comment on the report, nor does Foxconn. However, on Oct. 12, AppleInsider spoke with sources on the matter inside Apple who had no idea who Sonder was, or what they were offering.
A technology similar to what Sonder is shipping in its own product will likely come to pass in an Apple device, has already been executed once in the very expensive Optimus keyboard — and will likely be designed and developed by Apple.
There is no tangible evidence that the product originally "leaked" in the Reddit thread is anything more than an effort to market the upcoming keyboard by Sonder, and convince others that the company will be acquired by Apple, thereby generating more press for the product launch.
The marketing effort appears to have worked. Besides just Journal's coverage, since we were tipped by the "Foxconn Insider," the Sonder Design Twitter feed has grown by more than 1,000 followers.