HP Pulls Plug on Rubinstein as webOS Head

By Beecher Tuttle July 12, 2011

Hewlett-Packard has reorganized the management structure of its webOS mobile operating system unit by replacing the group’s head. The move comes just 10 days after HP launched the webOS-powered TouchPad tablet, which has so far received mixed reviews.

Former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein has been replaced as the head of the webOS unit by Stephen DeWitt, who ran the Americas region of HP’s Personal Systems Group (PSG). Stephen DiFranco, head of the solutions partners organization for the Americas, will take over the role left vacant by DeWitt.

Rubinstein, who ran the unit since HP acquired Palm last year, will receive a “product innovation role” within the PSG, where he will have much broader range of responsibilities across multiple product lines, according to a company release.

DeWitt will be charged with the task of taking on Apple and Android in the hopes of making webOS a relevant player in the mobile space. Besides overseeing engineering, R&D and sales initiatives, DeWitt will also oversee HP’s new global developer and independent software vendor program as well as launch a dedicated mobility practice with HP’s partner community. The goal will be to create consumer and business apps that can stand up to those provided by competitors.

“Stephen DeWitt has a proven ability to build and scale organizations into global, multibillion dollar operations, and I am confident that he will take webOS to the next level,” Todd Bradley, executive vice president of PSG, noted in a statement.

Although HP kept a positive tone in the release, some have speculated that the move may have stemmed from buyer concerns over the TouchPad tablet, the hallmark webOS device. Most complaints concern the performance of the device, including slow app load times and an inadequate browser, according to PC World.

The issues with the tablet led HP to announce just a week after its launch that the company will deliver an over-the-air software update in the coming days.

“We are working on our first software release, which will improve many of their concerns with regards to performance,” HP spokeswoman Leslie Letts said in a statement.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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