Former Palm CEO: Selling Palm to HP was a Waste
June 12, 2013 10:19 AM
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He added that Palm's technologies are now seen in Apple, Android and Windows devices
Former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said that
to Hewlett-Packard (HP) was a "waste," considering Palm's technologies are now seen in today's most popular devices.
in an interview that Palm's innovative technologies were lost in the sale to HP, and he would reconsider the Palm/HP sale if he could go back in time.
"I'm not sure I would have sold the company to HP. That's for sure," said Rubinstein. "Talk about a waste. Not that I had any choice because when you sell a company you don't get to decide that. Obviously, the board and shareholders decide that. If we had known they were just going to shut it down and never really give it a chance to flourish, what would have been the point of selling the company?"
Rubinstein added that Palm's technologies, like multitasking and Synergy, are now seen in mobile operating systems like
, Android and Windows Phone. He said it's even said in desktop operating systems like
Mac OS X
. Palm may have been ahead of its time.
"It's not just mobile platforms," said Rubinstein. "If you look at the notifications on Mac OS X, it looks just like webOS, too. We did a lot of things that were very, very innovative. Obviously, multitasking, notifications, Synergy, how we handled the multiple cards… Our over-the-air updates and mechanism has been updated by everybody. Our whole Synergy concept is now becoming much more common. I don't think anyone has implemented it as well as we did yet, but clearly they're all heading down that direction."
For those who need a refresher, Palm was an American smartphone manufacturer founded in 1992. During its time, the California-based company developed smartphones like the
, Pixi, Treo and Centro. It later released its one and only tablet, the TouchPad. Older devices ran the Palm OS Garnet operating system, but webOS was introduced as a replacement in 2009.
In April 2010,
Palm was sold to HP
for $1.2 billion USD. Rubinstein stuck around after the acquisition, and HP seemed optimistic about its new purchase.
"Palm's innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP's mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group, at the time of the acquisition. "And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share. Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP intends to be a leader in this market."
But a little over a year later, HP said it was
discontinuing all production of webOS
devices. In August 2012, HP created a wholly-owned subsidiary called Gram, which consisted of Palm's remaining components.
So what is Rubinstein doing today?
"I'm on two boards," said Rubinstein. "I'm on Amazon and Qualcomm. And there's a logic behind those two boards. I'm a big believer in mobile and integration of the home, and wearable computing and all that stuff, and having it all tied up in the cloud. There's sort of a common theme across those companies. I think they're uniquely positioned for the future of where things are going. That's how I spend some of my time. I help out some small companies with some time. And I'm taking some time off as well right now."
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RE: Let's not get crazy
6/12/2013 1:02:28 PM
"Dude's trying to make it sound like they brought the future to the world. Don't get all sassy because a couple people picked one or two things off your dead OS's corpse."
Yup... This is from a guy that ran the company that had the best OS and could have made it huge... They just kept going as they did the for the previous 7-8 years, futzing around with cheap, lousy hardware and couldn't figure out why people didn't like sending their phones in 4-5x for repair. Palms hardware engineering was a joke... Believe me, I know, I worked there. It was an absolute sham. Then on top of it, they farm out the poor hw design to manufacturing using the the absolute rock bottom lowest bidder (Mostly Inventec and HTC)
Gee, why doesnt anyone want to buy it? Why dont carriers want to sell it? The OS is so great!
RE: Let's not get crazy
6/12/2013 1:58:59 PM
The OS did need a little polish, but I don't fault the dev group for that. They were never given a real chance.
I find your assessment to be spot-on. Good insights, too. Palm leadership fell asleep at the wheel, got shaken awake by the iPhone and took
to respond, all with stupid slow hardware and an anemic marketing initiative. It was painful to watch. I thought something exciting was going to happen with the HP thing, but I should've known better.
RE: Let's not get crazy
6/12/2013 10:50:23 PM
My introduction to Palm was with the Centro (I know..., I know..), but it was head-and-shoulders above its contemporary competition.
I continued with them when they realease the Pixi, which I think had the best form factor (the Pre's keyboard slider was so shoddy) but worst performance. Even as sluggish as it was, it was still a much better experience than what's on offer now.
But, yeah, webOS is still the best mobile operating system, even after all the "modern" updates to Android and iOS.
I think they were just too small a company to compete with MS, Google, and Apple.
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