Fast Facts Matrix: January 15, 2001

Now that Palm has replaced your paper organizer, it wants to zap away your wallet.

Throw Away Your Billfold

Now that Palm has replaced your paper organizer, it wants to zap away your wallet. Last week, the company showed off new "e-wallet" features that will allow Palm handheld users to make purchases via the devices infrared communications port. Palm says it is working with Ingenico and Hewlett-Packards VeriFone division, two point-of-sale terminal makers, and with Visa International. Palm-enabled terminals are expected to roll out in retail stores this year. Whats the advantage? Palm says such transactions are much faster than swiping a credit card.

Gadget Fetish

Intel will roll out a portable digital audio player, diving into what has become one of the hottest consumer electronics categories. Scheduled to ship in February, the $300 Intel Pocket Concert Audio Player has 128 megabytes of memory — enough to hold up to four hours of music — and can play MP3 and Windows Media formats. Intel also demonstrated a portable "chat pad" e-mail and instant messaging device, and a wireless Web tablet for in-home Internet access.

Apples Song

Maybe Apple Computer is losing its knack for building frothy buzz. In the wake of an industrywide computer slump, the best Apple could do at last weeks Macworld Expo was to introduce new jukebox software. Called iTunes, the software lets Mac users create and manage music libraries — not very different from whats available for PCs. The company also rolled out four faster Power Mac desktops and a new DVD-authoring application. And there was some bad news: Apple yet again pushed back the delivery date for Mac OS X, the next version of the Macintosh operating system, this time to March 24. Cuts Back Staff

Marketing firm, facing a drop in online ad spending, last week said it will lay off 72 employees — 25 percent of its staff — in an effort to reach profitability this year. The Baltimore company last summer received $57 million in financing from investors that included America Online and Reuters.