updated 06:20 pm EST, Tue November 16, 2010
Palm's Rubinstein explains loss of phone edge
Palm leader and now HP executive Jon Rubinstein today told those at the Web 2.0 Summit that his company should have led the smartphone market. The company was one of the very earliest in the category, having established PDAs with the Palm Pilot and getting into smartphones early with the Treo, but squandered its lead and let others catch up. He likened his position from 2007 to the situation Steve Jobs faced at Apple in 1996 and 1997, when the goal was primarily to fix years of mistakes.
"By birthright, Palm should have owned the smartphone market, but it just lost its way," he said. "It's a very similar story to what happened with Apple."
Much of the company's history in the 2000s involved only minor, incremental updates to both its Treo smartphones and to PalmOS, which it eventually sold off to Access. The company tried modernizing by jumping to Windows Mobile but was quickly defeated as the iPhone and other platforms quickly took share from Microsoft. Rubinstein's appearance saw him both drop some established employees but also launch a mass hiring spree; many of the new employees were former Apple workers and in some cases had worked on the iPhone.
On the future, Rubinstein wouldn't detail the lineup but alluded to the PalmPad as well as "some smartphones" enroute. He warned those who criticized the current state of Palm that HP had only closed its buyout of Palm in July. The company and its lineup would be in a "very different position" next year, the executive said.