Here's a few interesting stats from a survey recently conducted in Europe. These aren't specifically about the iPhone, but given that smartphones relied on buttons almost exclusively before Apple's handheld came along (and nowadays, everyone's bragging about their touchscreen technology), a temperature-taking on what people think of touchscreen controls is more or less a referendum on what people think of Apple's influence.
At least in France, Germany and the UK, reactions are mixed. While 38% of those surveyed say they were planning to get a touchscreen on their next mobile phone, only 47% of people who already owned a touchscreen said they would get another one. In other words, less than half of touchscreen owners thought they'd stick with the technology on their next purchase. Apple remains an anomaly -- both HTC and Apple have a higher amount of current customers planning to stick with their touchscreen interface (with the full numbers being released at a conference later this month), but the fact remains: current touchscreen users aren't anywhere near 100% on living button-free forever.
Especially as a gamer, that makes a lot of sense. Touchscreens are great for a lot of things -- they allow for limitless flexibility in the kinds of interfaces on offer, and especially with multi-touch, a lot of the controls on the iPhone are extremely intuitive (you automatically know now that pinching equals zooming, and so on). But as nice as touchscreen is, there are a lot of functions on mobile phones, from adjusting volume or changing music tracks on a phone out of sight in your pocket, to hitting exact button controls while twitch gaming, that work much better with tactile feedback. Steve, as he always does, made a big deal about the iPhone being a one-button interface, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see future iterations of the iPhone include either a few more buttons, or, even better, a few more haptic interface technologies.