Friday, May 24, 2002 - Technology - Technology
Julie Strietelmeier suddenly has a bunch of new suitors.

The 37-year-old, who operates a Web site on electronic gadgets as a hobby, recently was courted by Sharp Electronics Corp., which paid her way to California for the launch of its new hand-held computer. Microsoft Corp. also vied for Ms. Strietelmeier's attention by paying for a trip to Seattle so she could attend a shindig on its Pocket PC hand-held software. Palm Inc. has invited her to attend gatherings and to join an exclusive mailing list. And Handspring Inc. has offered to lend her an assortment of its products.

"It's quite flattering," says Ms. Strietelmeier, a software programmer who runs her Web site, the Gadgeteer ( at nights out of her home in Columbus, Ind. "Of course I like it," she says of the attention. "Who wouldn't?"

With tough times in Silicon Valley, many makers of hand-held devices, facing cuts in their marketing and advertising budgets, are trying to woo people like Ms. Strietelmeier, one of about 50 around the country known by the industry as "influencers."

This is almost Gonzo, but it still has a bit too much of broadcast feel to it for me. Encouraging sign though.

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