In an effort to extend its user base, Palm is currently rolling out an aggressive initiative to give its handheld computer users the ability to check into hotels, rent cars and buy airline tickets in a flash-simply by beaming their personal information. Forget showing credit cards and filling out forms; Palm's infrared port will beam your specifics-name, address, phone and credit card number-directly to the travel provider, who, in turn, will beam you back a receipt.
"It's much easier than the traditional purchase. Plus, your expense report will automatically be filled out," says Doug Solomon, senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Palm. "It's a real benefit to travelers."
Palm has big ambitions for the product. "The eWallet is the next logical evolution of the Palm," says Solomon, who envisions this technology replacing physical credit cards altogether-not just for travel-related purchases, but also for use in local restaurants, department stores and more. Palm strategically targeted frequent travelers as the first market for its services, as they're often early adopters of technology. Says Solomon, "They'll quickly see the benefits of what we are offering. In tests, what we hear from them is 'Wow!'"
Keep an eye on Palm's site for future announcements. The eWallet is set for a late summer or early fall launch, and a list of participating travel providers will be available closer to that time.
Robert McGarvey is the author of How to Dotcom.