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webOS daddy Jon Rubinstein exits HP

Enough is enough: 'I'm gonna go for a swim, have a little lunch..."

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Apple, Palm, HP, margaritas

At Apple, Rubinstein led the iMac development team, which whipped into product form a concept that designer Jonathan Ive had proposed a few years earlier, and which Jobs championed after his rise to the CEO position – interim or otherwise.

Although he also led the team that developed the Mac G4 and G5 lines, Rubinstein is perhaps best known as the father of Apple's game-changing iPod, which he brought to market with the help of Ive and engineer Tony Fadell – even marketing honcho Phil Schiller is said to have gotten into the act by suggesting the iPod's scroll-wheel interface.

After leaving his position as head of the successful iPod division in March 2006, Rubinstein joined Palm in 2007, just as that company struggled to reshape its identity as the personal digital assistant (PDA) market it had dominated was facing certain doom from the rise of feature phones and then smartphones.

Rubenstein introduced Palm's webOS mobile operating system and its first phone, the Palm Pre, in January 2009. In June of that year, Rubinstein took over as Palm CEO from 16-year Palm veteran Ed Colligan.

Despite generally favorable reviews – including one from this reporter – the Pre was not able to overcome the iPhone juggernaut (or the many-tentacled reach of Android, for that matter), and it never really caught on.

After admitting in March 2010 that Palm's troubles were "deeply disappointing" to him, Rubinstein sidestepped rumors that the company was up for sale, despite speculation that HTC, ZTE, and Lenovo were showing interest.

In April of that year, Rubinstein told the Financial Times that "Palm can survive as an independent company" and that they had "a plan that gets us to profitability". Five days later, HP bought Palm for $1.2bn.

And we all know how well that partnership worked out. Remember HP's grand plan to put webOS in HP printers and onto HP PCs? Fuggeddaboutit.

For those of us who were fans of webOS – despite its rocky start, its less than stellar wooing of developers, and its somewhat turgid performance in its early iterations on underpowered hardware – its demise and Rubinstein's increasing isolation have been painful to watch.

But today, Rubinstein appears to be feeling no pain. Although he told The Verge during Friday's interview from his vacation in Mexico that it was "too early in the day for a margarita," he was "gonna go for a swim, have a little lunch..."

No details of Rubinstein's severance package have been released, but we're willing to bet that should he so desire, he'll be able to pop for a bottle of Herradura Selección Suprema Extra Anejo for that eventual margarita. ®

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