The last vestiges of Palm have left HP, as All Things D and multiple other sources have confirmed in the last hour that the former Palm CEO and technical mastermind behind webOS has officially left HP after serving his initial commitment of 12-24 months following the acquisition by HP in 2010 after struggles in the marketplace forced Palm to seek a buyer.
Jon Rubenstein became head of Palm in 2008 following years of losses and false starts for the hardware manufacturer as it struggled to maintain marketshare in a marketplace dominated by the iPhone and facing the threat of Android. Under Rubenstein, Palm set out to compete head on against the iPhone by completely killing any association with GarnetOS and starting from scratch with the Linux-based webOS operating system. At the time of the operating system’s debut during CES 2009, it was hailed as a remarkable alternative to both Android and iOS.
Released in June of that year, the Palm Pre was backed by an exclusivity agreement with Sprint along with an equally massive marketing campaign which ultimately stumbled in terms of showcasing both the Pre and operating system, as most of the coverage was focused on the commercials themselves, which featured a rendered model of a woman that confused and frightened more people than sold the phone.
While the Pre did well initially, sales quickly dwindled to the point that Sprint was forced to endure months of slow sales before Palm was forced to seek other carrier partners in order to shore up hardware sales. Following launches on AT&T and Verizon with Wi-Fi enabled Pre variants in 2010, Palm were still struggling to make webOS successful in an increasingly crowded marketplace despite the critical acclaim of the operating system, to the point that the company was increasingly seeking to sell itself.
After months of rumors and speculation, Palm was purchased by HP in the summer of 2010 for 1.2 billion with the goals of having the resources necessary to further refine and develop the operating system, with an eye to expanding its presence beyond mobile devices, such as HP computers and printers. By 2011, the operating system and hardware was near moribund, with the only new product being the stillborn Pre 2 on Verizon Wireless since the acquisition.
The company seemed to be on an upswing in March with the announcements of the Pre 3, Veer 4G and TouchPad, which were meant to anchor the operating system with new hardware, but the announcements did little more than excite dedicated enthusiasts while leaving others indifferent.
Jon did not specify what his future plans were at the time of departure.