Palm Head Admits Company 'Couldn't Move As Fast As Competitors'

By Tracey E. Schelmetic December 08, 2010

It would appear that Palm is in the mood for a little honesty. During a technology conference on Tuesday, Dec. 7, the company's head Jon Rubenstein admitted that the company had tried to turn its direction around, but their efforts were brought to an end with the purchase of the company earlier this year by Hewlett-Packard for $1.8 billion in cash, said the Associated Press.

Rubenstein also indicated that the company couldn't move as fast as competitors. Rubenstein is the senior vice president and the general manager of HP's Palm unit.

Rubeinstein noted to reporters that Palm, which was an early pioneer in the smartphone market, had many of the necessary elements of for success when it launched its new operating software, webOS, and accompanying Pre and Pixi smartphones in 2009. At that time, the company had a solid management team and good software, a great product pipeline and over $500 million in cash.

But, noted Rubenstein, “The world moved faster than we expected and we ran out of runway.”

Palm, which was launched in 1992, pioneered the early hand-held computing market with its first Palm Pilot personal digital assistants (PDAs) in the 1990s. Later, the company went through a number of restructurings, notably a purchase by U.S. Robotics, which itself was bought by 3Com Corp., in 1997. Palm was again spun off into its own company in 2000, at which time many competitors were on the move in the marketplace.

Rubenstein noted that the Palm and HP merger “was a good choice because as the largest computer company in the world it could help Palm bring its products to more people. And HP didn't have a great mobile strategy before adding Palm to its fold.”

But still, said Rubenstein, competitors such as Apple with its iPhone and now Google Android have eclipsed any headway the company has made. Palm hasn't given up, however. The company recently announced the next version of webOS, which runs on its new Pre 2 handset, and is working on upcoming webOS products, including phones and a tablet that Rubinstein said will be released next year. He would not give specifics about when the products will be released.

“This is just the beginning. It's not 'game over,'” said Rubenstein.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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