Treo Madness sweeps the Nation?

Is Treo 600 the new IPod? It seems so!

Last week was spent the cold canyons of Manhattan. And I saw an awkward behavior – there were people who behaved strangely around a certain device called Treo 600. Let me back-up a bit. Peter “Gizmodo” Rojas met me for a drink at my favorite French bistro, Steak Frites, for a glass of Merlot. And then like a cowboy drawing his six-gun, he plunked down his gray colored Treo on the Zinc bar, and proclaimed, “I love this device. It does everything for me.” He had a secure digital card which stored his music, which made it easy for him to turn his Treo into an MP3 player. Thanks to a speedy Sprint Internet connection, he could check his email right at the bar. (I was struggling with the old GPRS-based Motorola A388.) For a man who gets his share of devices, it was hard to imagine how he could love Treo 600 so much.

I personally did not care much about the device and have mixed feelings about it. Perhaps that explains why I have refrained from writing about it. The keypad is too small to type comfortably, hate the low-res screen and just found the device too heavy for my liking. Still there were some redeeming qualities like great email client. Music player is brilliant but the headphone jack is in an awkward kind of place, at the bottom of the device. Good quality PIM and easy text messaging made it to the plus side of the ledger. I found that the battery power of the GSM unit was fabulous. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. And I cannot force myself to spend $600 on the device. (A full review might appear if I can snag a review unit.)

Point taken, but I was still not convinced. Next afternoon, I met Jeff Jarvis and Anil Dash for lunch. Jeff, who is the master of media in New York blogged the big Iranian blog scoop right from Tamarind using his Treo 600 (again with a Sprint PCS service) as a modem. Finally I was suitably impressed for Jeff is a gentleman of the old school. In other words, he is a classic journalist who despite being curious about stuff, retains a sense of cynicism. But his ringing endorsement of Treo was impressive. He even used it for blogging!

Peter and Jeff might be early adopters, but that same evening I saw Treo 600 on television. In the restaurants, bars, and even night clubs I saw Manhattanites chatting away on their Treo or thumbing their text messages. Quite impressive for a device that is barely three months old in the market. Even as waited for my JetBlue flight back to San Francisco (via Oakland) I saw folks thumbing happily. And even at work people were talking about Treo.

It seems a Treo has become the new cultural icon. If 2003 was the year of Ipoddery, then 2004 could be a year of Treo-trendiness.

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