Ex-Palm CEO Admits: Selling Company to HP Was a Mistake

Jon Rubinstein Regrets Demise of Palm and WebOS

by Anton Shilov
06/12/2013 | 11:24 PM

Jon Rubinstein, the father of Apple iPod and a former chief executive officer of Palm, nowadays feels remorse about selling Palm to Hewlett-Packard and consequent demise of the webOS, an operating system that appeared to be too innovative for its time. At the same time, he admits that Palm was essentially dead quite some time before it was taken over by HP.

 

After Apple unveiled details about its iOS operating system for smartphones and media tablets, which is due later this year, a lot of observers noted similarities with webOS developed over three years ago. Many features of the OS designed by Palm, including notifications, multitasking, over-the-air updates and a number of others are now part of other mobile platforms developed by Apple, Google and Microsoft.

“We did a lot of things that were very, very innovative. Obviously, multitasking, notifications, Synergy, how we handled the multiple cards. […] Our whole Synergy concept is now becoming much more common. I do not think anyone has implemented it as well as we did yet, but clearly they are all heading down that direction,” said Jon Rubinstein in an interview with FierceWireless.

At present, Jon Rubinstein regrets that Palm was sold to HP and afterwards the latter failed to make competitive smartphones and tablets. By now, Hewlett-Packard either sold or disposed webOS assets and thus destroyed the platform as it was originally designed.

“I am not sure I would have sold the company to HP [if you could do things over again]. That is for sure. Talk about a waste. Not that I had any choice because when you sell a company you do not 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? I think the deal we had with Verizon really hurt us, but who knew that at the time? These things are all hindsight,” said Mr. Rubinstein.