a droid named darryl

Not to be confused with D.A.R.Y.L.

As a girl who went through 3 generations of Apple Newtons (including the limited edition clear MessagePad 110), I’ve been pretty skeptical of smartphones for the past few years. As a student, I loved having a PDA. It made keeping track of classes easier, and the MP2000 with the keyboard accessory was actually pretty good for taking notes.

I wasn’t purely an Apple fangirl either, I dabbled with Palms (the m500 was so very sleek), and even made the jump to Windows Mobile (WinCE, at the time) with my beloved Cassiopeia (colour! compact flash! it was like the future). But by the time I started working full time, I realized that having a separation between work-life and actual life was very important to me, and having my office synced up to a device that I had with me 24/7 was not good for that separation.  In addition, most of the devices and the available apps for them were very business/calendar focused, and I didn’t need something so complicated to manage my personal life.

Fast-forward to the release of the iPhone. It was pretty, no doubt. And Apple was definitely targeting it more for “home” use, having ceded the business end of that market to RIM and Microsoft for a while.  I’ll admit, as I heard about the apps available for it, I considered taking the plunge — my phone service was already with AT&T, though I was sans-data plan.  But the way that Apple chose to lock down developer freedoms with the App Store gave me pause.  The fact that the iPhone wasn’t open probably wouldn’t really affect my use of it at all, but it just rubbed me the wrong way. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Personal Digital Assistant paradigm was still fundamentally flawed.

But why all this talk about dead platforms and obsolete devices? I’ve had Darryl the Droid (blame Nerd 2 for the name) for a couple of days now (Costco has a deal on, if you’re interested), and of all the devices and all the phones I’ve had over the years, this is the first one I’ve used that has felt like what the Newton Messagepad wanted to be (but couldn’t, because this was the nineties, people). I wonder if Steve Jobs will ever be humble enough to call up John Sculley and admit: “Hey… you were right.” The PDA is back, baby.


  1. Keacher Apr 26

    You owned a Newton?! :o

    I had to make do with a Palm Pilot…

  2. tph Apr 27

    Several! My “crowd” back then was all about the PDA’s.

    I’m not sure what happened to most of them, I remember giving away my MessagePad 2000, but the other ones are probably in storage at my parents somewhere.

    I always considered Palm to be the also-ran platform (yes, I was a snob). I was really surprised when RIM wasn’t able to kill them off.