updated 12:35 pm EST, Fri January 27, 2012
Rubinstein HP exit closes major webOS chapter
HP has confirmed that former Palm CEO and one-time Apple executive Jon Rubinstein was leaving the company. Representative Mylene Mangalindan explained to AllThingsD that Rubinstein had "fulfilled his commitment" to stay for one to two years after HP's acquisition of Palm. He wasn't leaving for another company and isn't believed to have some other specific goal.
Rubinstein's role at HP had become unclear after the decision to end webOS, at least in the short term. He had been moved to a generic innovation role inside of the Personal Systems Group. Some had interpreted it as HP having lost a clear position for the leader of a hardware-focused webOS group or else as a way to meet obligations without having to find a specific new role.
For webOS, Rubinstein leaving represents the end of a major chapter. He left Apple in 2006 for what was supposed to be an at least temporary retirement from technology, only to be roped back in during 2007 after Palm was looking for leadership to revamp its ailing strategy. Rubinstein was treated like the company's equivalent of Steve Jobs and saw a major reshuffling of talent and product strategy, trimming and switching the engineering staff while also consolidating the line around fewer devices. Confidence in the choices he made that helped webOS led to Palm giving him the CEO position in 2009, right as the Palm Pre was reaching stores.
While credited with buying time for Palm, many now see Rubinstein as having come in too late. The company didn't have the budget and resources to produce higher quality devices at a quick rate and get them to large numbers of people, letting its sales quickly taper off. He was still considered shrewd in successfully getting HP to pay $1.2 billion for Palm in spring 2010 at a time when its very survival was in doubt.