Jon Rubinstein is the new head of Palm’s product development efforts. He’s only been on the job for a few months, but he’s already remaking the company into form he believes will make it a serious competitor again.
Rubinstein is no stranger to creating successful mobile devices. When he was in charge of hardware engineering at Apple, the company came up with iMac and the iBook, and he was instrumental in the creation of the iPod.
But he has a significant challenge in Palm. The company, which was once a significant force in the handheld and smartphone market, has slipped in recent years, and its products are seen as lacking in innovation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, since he joined Palm earlier this year, Rubinstein has re-organized the company’s development efforts, with teams focused on individual projects, each with a director that is responsible for the product from beginning to end.
He’s also forced the company to re-think its product roadmap, with some items being dropped, most notably the Foleo. Also dropped have been some of Palm’s employees, like Michael Farese, the former VP of engineering.
Rubinstein didn’t reveal any specific details to the WSJ on upcoming products, but he did say he wants to break the Treo line out of its rut by releasing models with new formfactors, possibly including one with a numberpad instead of a keyboard.
Much of his efforts are focused on the new Linux-based operating system Palm is developing to succeed the Palm OS, which is used on the majority of its current products.
He has some powerful incentives to succeed in turning Palm around. To earn a million of his stock options, Palm’s share price has to go up between 50% and 200%.