updated 03:50 pm EST, Thu December 13, 2007
Rubenstein at Palm
A key former executive from Apple is already instituting major changes at Palm that may revitalize the Centro maker's fortunes in the long run, the Wall Street Journal. Executive chairman Jon Rubenstein, who was responsible for much early iPod design as well as the iBook, is said to have completely overhauled Palm's development groups to focus on individual devices and has reshuffled the talent pool at the company. Engineers he believes are important to the company have been promoted while executives have been forced out -- including at least one senior VP of engineering, according to the paper. Hirings are also believed to be faster, in part to increase the incentives for potential recruits.
The former Apple chair is now known to have also had last-minute influence on products, canceling the Foleo phone companion and requesting minor changes to the budget Centro smartphone before its release this fall. The device shipped early with the fixes in place and to a positive reaction from the press, the Journal says.
The news suggests a recovery for Palm that comes at a particularly crucial moment for the company, which has continued to fall short of financial expectations and is bleeding marketshare to smartphone makers such as Research in Motion and its BlackBerry series, which often control the corporate space, and largely home-oriented media phones such as Apple's iPhone. The company is developing a Linux-based Palm OS that would add much-needed upgrades to the software for the Centro and Treo but is now not expected until late 2008, which may see the release accompanied by the first full efforts of Rubinstein's design experience.