Apple heavyweight takes helm at Palm

US handset vendor Palm said late Wednesday that it has appointed former Apple heavyweight Jon Rubinstein to replace Ed Colligan as chairman and CEO after 16 years at the helm.

Rubinstein joined Palm as executive chairman in 2007, and assumes the role of CEO on June 12.

He was instrumental in turning Apple’s fortunes around in the late 90s, and was also the visionary behind the original iPod, which Apple is now using as a platform to carve out a niche in the mobile space.

Colligan, who has led Palm for the last 16 years, plans to take some time off before joining Elevation Partners, a private equity fund at which Rubinstein also holds a position, that invested in Palm in 2007.

At the time of the Elevation investment there was much speculation over Rubinstein’s influence on Palm’s product line and, coincidentally, he will take over the company just as the much vaunted Palm Pre hits shelves.

Touted as a serious competitor to the iPhone and Nokia’s flagship N97, the Pre packs a slide out keyboard and touch screen interface and is available with either HSDPA or EVDO connectivity, wifi and GPS. It boasts 8GB of storage and a 3 megapixel camera and probably a handset first in the shape of an inductive charging unit.

The inductive charging system allows the device to be set down on a separately solid tablet-ike charging dock, without the user having to worry about fitting connections together.

The device is also the first Palm gadget to run the company’s flagship webOS platform. Jumping on the cloud computing bandwagon, webOS allows consumers to pull their contact, calendars and personal information down from the internet on any device, wirelessly. A key feature of the Palm platform is synchronisation of information between multiple services, so if the same contact is listed in the user’s phonebook and on their social networking sites, both contact details are pulled into the same interface. Likewise with multiple conversation platforms such as text message and email, as well as calendars.

The OS also supports full multitasking, allowing users to keep multiple activities open and move between them as they might flip through a deck of cards. They can also close an application by flicking it off the top of the screen.

One comment

  1. Avatar iPhone App Developer 11/06/2009 @ 2:57 pm

    For Palm everything hinges on the Pre being a success – it’s tough to see them winning – Apple and Rim have market share whilst Nokia and Android are trying.
    Looking at the slightly larger tech field – Bing could be considered as a ‘serious competitor’ to Google – but deep down we know it’s already lost; I suspect the Pre has already lost as well.

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