updated 08:25 am EDT, Mon June 4, 2007
Palm Recruits iPod Head
Palm today announced that it had hired Jon Rubinstein, the former head of Apple's iPod division, to take a place on the company's board as an executive chairman. The former senior VP of hardware engineering was recruited as part of a new $325 million investment in the company by Elevation Partners -- which itself is managed by previous Apple CFO Fred Anderson -- and will see Rubinstein lead the company's product development efforts, which should include the company's Treo line of smartphones as well as future products springing from the Foleo phone companion. The former Apple VP cited the possibilities behind cellphones as a key motivator for his new role at Palm.
"Approximately 1 billion cell phones are sold each year, and mobile computing is a category with enormous potential," he said. "This is a company with an impressive history of introducing game-changing products – it pioneered the smartphone – and I intend to help extend that legacy."
The move represents a major shift in allegiances for the former iPod executive, who continued to consult for Apple after his April 2006 resignation from the senior VP position. His role as chairman at Palm will put his future efforts in direct contention with Apple's iPhone, which is set to launch June 29th and has been described by Jobs as a solution to the limits of the Treo and other smartphones.
Elevation Partners, in turn, will gain a 25 percent stake in Palm based on its share of the latter's common stock value, allowing it greater influence in the ultimate direction of the company.