As of Friday morning, former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein is no longer working for HP. Prior to his sudden departure, he held a "product innovation" role within HP's Personal Systems Group which is now headed by Todd Bradley. His task: to lead HP 's assault against Apple's iPad tablets. But his battle is now left unfinished as he walks away from the company for unknown reasons.
Unnamed sources claim that Rubinstein hadn't been seen at HP's offices since former CEO Leo Apotheker decided to get out of the webOS hardware business. Another source said that his assigned "innovation" gig was his first step towards an exit. Looking back, it was undoubtedly a huge blow below the belt to hear that HP decided to make his operating system an open-source project.
"Jon has fulfilled his commitment to HP," a HP spokesman told Reuters without divulging any additional information.
The news arrives just two years to the day after Steve Jobs announced the iPad. Rubinstein was once an Apple executive and the engineering brains behind the iPod music player and iMac, but he reportedly moved to Palm in order to get out from under Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive's shadow. At Palm, he replaced longtime CEO Ed Colligan and pushed the company into killing the legacy PalmOS, and to create an entirely new operating system called webOS which made its debut on the Palm Pre.
Following the launch, webOS devices (Pixi, Veer, Pre 2) struggled to compete with RIM's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone devices. HP's purchase in 2010 seemed like fresh start until the company's own products failed to gain any ground (TouchPad). As reported back in the summer, HP halted the sales of its webOs-based tablet and decided to put the actual software on hold, abandoning its plans to release additional webOS-based hardware.
Finally in December HP announced that it would make webOS open-source, clearly challenging Google and its open-sourced Android platform. The company said that components will be released on a monthly basis until the software is completely released to the community in July.
So what will the former Palm CEO do now? "I am going to take a well deserved break after four and a half years of developing webOS," Rubenstein told AllThingsD.