updated 11:30 am EST, Mon January 2, 2012
Von Rospach blames both Apotheker, Palm legacy
Recently departed webOS Community Manager Chuq von Rospach has added to the explanations for why webOS was failing with new details of his own. While careful not to blame HP solely or even primarily for the platform's decline, von Rospach noted that the culture fostered under ousted CEO Leo Apotheker only exacerbated what's cast as a revolving-door culture. He likened it to the nadir of Apple's leadership under Michael Spindler, who preceded Gil Amelio and was well before the clarity and lean organization that defined Steve Jobs' return.
"During my tenure at Palm/HP — just under three years — I had six direct managers, averaging about 5 months per, ranging from a first level manager to directors to a couple of VPs," von Rospach said. "I reported to, or up to, eight different VPs in that time. One of my direct managers (the last one) and two of those VPs are still with HP. Does that give you a sense of how well things were going in the organization? yeah, I think it does. Apple in the worst of days — the dark, damp days of Spindler that made you want to wake up screaming, but you couldn’t because you weren’t asleep — were never as bad as these last few months in Leoville."
Most of the damage, he said, was "self-inflicted." Palm had already been on the verge of collapse when it was bought by HP, and HP gave it the cash and logistical support it needed to survive. That it floundered a second time was the Palm team's fault, he argued.
The veteran gave tentative credit to Apotheker's replacement, Meg Whitman. While she didn't revive webOS hardware in the near term, she took the time to study figures and was willing to be patient in getting the right decision, not make the largely instinctual reactions he credited to Apotheker.
Alongside the insight, von Rospach noted that his new job outside of the mobile industry at Infoblox meant he was more likely to provide opinions about not just HP and Palm but also Apple. He no longer had to worry about confidentiality or a conflict of interest by writing about either his employer or a rival. "How far I’ll wade into both topics, I haven’t decided, he cautioned. "But I do expect to."