I fully expect for the keyboard to go away one day when someone develops an even better input apparatus to replace it. Obviously, I'm not that someone so I have no idea what it is. Can a multi-touch platform capable of displaying a virtual keyboard be it? I know a lot of people will hate it but I think I can get used to the idea.
If you have an iPad or a smartphone like the Droid X or the iPhone that does not have physical keyboard, you're already using it. Some people like it. Others don't. I'm okay either way. I'm faster on a regular keyboard but I grew up using a typewriter. Lots of kids today will only know about multi-touch, like my nephews.
And Apple has been granted patents just to create a virtual keyboard of sort. And one that could change patterns and shapes to the needs of the user.
One of the strange things, years after the various newer generation Star Trek shows went off the air, the glass displays that gave the officer control stayed the same. If Star Trek the Next Generation was on the air today, each control panel or pad would work like today's tablets like the iPad that allows display of control based on the needs of the user.
That's what Apple is trying to achieve and something similar could well be the next Holy Grail to data input. That would make mobile computing, especially tablets, another advantage over laptops and netbooks.
More at Patently Apple.