Ex-Palm Chief Rubinstein Has Resigned From HP

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.

  • house70
    "abandoning its plans to release additional webOS-based hardware."
    That is the problem... there should not be any web-OS based hardware. With WebOS open sourced, devs should be able to install it on ANY hardware, thus bringing a stellar OS to any phone/tablet out there. All they need to do is write the drivers for the few manufacturer-specific hardware out there and leave the rest to the devs.
  • NuclearShadow
    Once Google announced Android and it's plans Both RIM and webOS should have quickly went open as well. It is simply too late now and it no longer matters what either of them do. The only ones that can afford to remain closed is Apple.

    This is what happens when you ignore a threat just because it is a new one, you can easily end up getting dominated. Just look at Blockbuster as a prime example of this.
  • del35
    Both RIM and webOS should have quickly went open as well. It is simply too late now and it no longer matters what either of them do.
    I would love an alternative to Android, and it ain't the
    IOS prison.
  • belardo
    Theres WindowsPhone (Horrible name).
  • belardo
    I have a question for Microsoft... if a reporter from Toms can ask...

    The Long and boring name "WindowsPhone" has got to go. Look at these cool names: iOS, Android, WebOS...

    Here is my idea:
    "Metro 2.0" for the phone (I know, its nicer to have it match the desktop) or
    "Metro 8"

    Then call the desktop its current name "Windows 8" which uses the Metro interface.

    SERIOSULY, WindowsPhone8 or WP8 looks... lame, rolls off the tongue badly.

  • g00fysmiley
    its really nto his fault WebOS was't well recieved... the OS was sound, most peopel who tried it loved it, heck ICS took alot of interface ques from WebOS... it was defeated by advertising, whoever decided a very pale balerina would make a great spokes person to techies/ main stram consumers should have been imediatly fired and a new advertising strategist hired
  • jabliese
    Also starts the clock ticking on when he could be hired by someone else to work on WebOS.
  • Why not take a well deserved break, Rubinstein - 1st Palm, then HP WebOS. And after the break - who knows, maybe you can go to another company!