Former Apple executive made Palm CEO

Ronny Kerr · June 11, 2009 · Short URL:

Developer of iPod hopes to replicate success for Palm smartphone

Jon RubinsteinPalm announced this week that former Apple executive Jon Rubinstein, one of the key figures in the development of the iPod, will be replacing Ed Colligan as Chairman and CEO. After 16 years of leading one of the most innovative companies in handheld technology, Ed Colligan will be joining Elevation Partners, a private equity firm invested in Palm and Forbes, among others.

The news comes right on the heels of the company’s June 6 release of its smartphone answer to the iPhone, the Palm Pre, just two days before Apple’s highly anticipated announcement of the new iPhone 3G S at WWDC.

No stranger to Palm, Rubinstein has for the past two years worked with Colligan in creating the innovative Palm webOS, an operating system for the handheld that attempts to seamlessly and securely marry the user’s data with online data. An application on the Palm Pre called Universal Search, for example, allows a user to simultaneously search their phone data, Google, and Wikipedia all in one place.

This is the technology he’s talking about when Rubinstein remarks, “With Palm webOS we have ten-plus years of innovation ahead of us, and the Palm Pre is already one of the year's hottest new products.”

Palm PreSelling 50,000 units in its launch weekend, the Palm Pre is indeed proving itself as a smartphone not to be ignored. Hooked to the 3G network, donning a 3 megapixel camera, and featuring a flashy 3.1-inch 320x480 resolution touch screen, the 8GB phone is directly competing with the recently announced iPhone, which is to be made available starting June 19.

What everybody wants to know is what Rubinstein’s hiring means for the future of Palm. As head of Apple’s iPod division during its most highly successful years, the new CEO hopes to bring to Palm the same spark of creative energy that helped boost Apple to the monumental force of new and exciting technology that it is today.

And the Palm Pre, with its webOS developed in part by Rubinstein, may already be helping push Palm in that direction.

As former CEO Colligan said in the Sunnyvale press release yesterday, “we are on our way to defining the standard for the mobile web.” In light of the iPhone’s popularity, Palm and Jon Rubinstein have some work ahead of them to make that a reality.

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