back to article Palm to out-iPod Apple with CEO pick

The individual credited with building the iPod is poised to square off against he who birthed the player, Steve Jobs - or at least his company, Apple. Palm has named Apple's former iPod division chief Jon Rubinstein as its chairman and chief executive officer, less than two years after he joined fresh from Apple as executive …


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  1. Steve McPolin
    Paris Hilton


    Good for Palm; a top notch C-level is the most important element of success. I never understood why companies don't have lots and lots of C-levels, as it would certainly make them more successful.

    PH, because idolatry blows.

  2. SynnerCal

    This'll never work

    Having someone with an engineering bias in the top seat will never work. Look at other companies - and you'll see that you need to be a 'bean counter' or marketing-droid to get ahead. Heck, there's always the danger that you might end up with a technology company being technology-led otherwise - and wouldn't that be a disaster! ;)

    Seriously though - Palm is always a company I've had a sneaking liking for (I still use my venerable Tungsten T3). So I'd just love to see them come out with some innovative products at decent prices. At least then I won't have to replace the ole T3 when it fails with something lesser, like an iPaq. ;)

    I watch with interest...

    (Coat icon because mine is the white one with the pen stains on the pocket and the solder iron burns on the sleeves.)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Have to go a long way.

    To seriously give the iPhone some competition.

    I mean really, why copy it?

    It's unlikely that anyone will get the same quality of design and concept as Apple do and mostly it's just obvious copies, released far too long after the fact, with insufficient attention paid to iron out the wrinkly bits (a thing Apple are obsessive about).

    For Apple this must all be very flattering. Apple design and everyone else scrambles to copy, usually badly.

  4. Robert E A Harvey
    Thumb Down

    @SynnerCal - nub of the matter

    You are right - innovative products are the key

    The original Palm Pilot - Mine only just stopped working - was innovative and original, it crowbarred itself into a market that did not exist. The Pre is 'just another smartphone', and even though Palm may have helped create the concept.

    I could display NMEA dialogues from navigation systems on my palm, using the RS232 input. I had the modem, an ethernet adaptor, and could use it as a remote control on my TV. In 1997.

    Where is the innovation today? What about a simple programming environment that would let engineers turn their devices into oscilloscopes, spectrum analysers, data loggers? What about a couple of analogue inputs? Digital Radio Mondiale?(DAB will take too much battery power!)

    We need a sort of technical lego - ultrasonic distance or beam-break event detectors, light and heat sensors, oxygen sensors, voltmeters, ammeters, relay outputs and opto-isolator inputs etc etc all with a short range radio link simpler and more reliable than bluetooth and capable of handling multiple devices, like small motor actuators, buzzers, valves, and the like. All programmable by something as simple as ladder logic or function blocks. Have a PC adaptor and one for the PDA, develop the software at your desk and use it in the field.

    Or what about opening your front door? For 20 years cars have used 'blippers' to unlock doors, and recently to open the bootlid. Why can't I do that for my house? As an accessory from Palm? What about leaving my burglar alarm on all the time, but set the pre up to identify me and let me move about without triggering the bells?

    Why can't it have an ultrasonic device I can use to train my dog? Or switch automagically to low power when e.g. it gets after 5pm and I never make or get phone calls after 5pm? Or turn itself off at airports? How come I can't point it at the meat in a carvery restaurant and read off the temperature? or have it beep when I go near a CCTV camera, or use the same telemetry link as my heart pacemaker and tell my my recent cardiac history? Why won't it let me open my hotel bedroom, or exchange funds with a one-touch cashless terminal, or pay the London congestion charge, or have it read my iris before it will turn on in case someone nicks it?

    Me-too design and marketing is not innovation, just an attempt to run a business that has no ideas of its own.

  5. Janko Hrasko

    @Robert E A Harvey

    Spot on!!

    Couldn't agree more, the tech's here and but still the world is wasting CPU cycles on shiny user interfaces. iPhone anyone?


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SynnerCal - You having a laugh, son?

    I love fanboy logic:

    "Apple are the best so anyone doing anything similar are merely guilty of flattery and plagiarism..."

    You have to be fucking kidding me. Palm wrote the book on most of this stuff. You can't seriously be so fucked in the head as to believe that Apple developed one-tenth of the stuff which goes into an iPhone, can you?

    The iPhone is a winner in terms of design, not function. Sorry if that concept proves hard for you to rationalise but there you go. I'm sure some time spent furiously wanking over Apple rumour sites will atone you of your sins. Idiot.

  7. John Wills 1

    @Will 22

    Hmmm- not sure you're right. Those that invent things rarely get them right straight away. Palm having got there first doesn't matter all that much- the sheer awfulness of many more recent Palm products probably is more relevant that having allegedly come up with the PDA form factor (I think that's what you are implying).

    As for design/function for the iPhone- again not sure you are right. I think that the physical design is pretty uninspired. I hate the curved shiny back, andn the big silver bezel looks wrong. I much prefer the original iPod Touch. If you are saying that the interface design (and/or the user experience) is lousy, I recommend you go frantically rub one out over the WinMo 7 rumour sites to atone for your sins, because you have either never used an iPhone or are mad.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    In a less acerbic tone ...

    Okay, truisms where truisms due.

    Even the humble iPAQ had a similar model in terms of device, support services by third parties (eg apps), additional hardware plugin devices (it is good to see that the iPhone is going into docked devices too).

    But the big, bigger or biggest question must be: why has Apple had such a roaring success in similar models used by others that are tainted by huge floppability? Most of these commercial models flopped. Apple's didn't. Why?

    Tom Tom on iPAQ, Tom Tom on iPhone.

    Which would you prefer?

    Which would Tom Tom prefer?

    I know my preference and I don't mind being an early adopter.

    Did you see the WWDC keynote?

    Particularly that bit about registered OS X use after introduction of (newest) iPod and iPhone?

    And, in my opinion, long may it last (Apple's success that is).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Robert E A Harvey

    I can't work out if you are being sarcastic or not... the cost, complexity and weight of the type of gadget you describe would be ludicrous and it would only appeal to you and a couple of other geeks. The other 99.99% of the population would prefer a cheaper, simpler, lighter, more shiny device that didn't come with the spectrum analyser... when will el reg commentards realise they're definately not representative of the population in terms of their preferences.

  10. Steve Todd

    @Will 22

    Have you got some sort of inferiority complex or something. SynnerCal said not one word about Apple, plagiarism or flattery, yet you try to attribute those words to him and go rambling off on a tirade about Apple not developing more than a tiny fraction of the contents of an iPhone whereas Palm built theirs from first principles (neither representation is true, both the Pre and the iPhone are based about pretty much the same ARM and PowerVR hardware. Apple's software is in part based on Open Source but otherwise is mainly their own) .

    What he did say, and I agree with him, was that it will be good to see Palm coming up with competitive and innovative devices again.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "allegedly come up with the PDA form factor"?

    It was a bit more than that. Palm devices up to the Palm V were superb. I've had high end Nokia, Windows and Blackberry devices in recent years and I've still not had anything that worked as well as a personal organiser (calendar, notes, todo list, plus some really useful 3rd party apps) as my Palm III. They even did email tolerably well and this was 10 years ago.

    That level of usability and reliability, in a great form factor, is what Palm lost and Apple now deliver. Palm lost their way - they let the UI age, killed the battery life, didn't add phone functions soon enough or well enough - but their early devices defined a sector.

  12. Ascylto
    Jobs Halo

    @ John Wills 1

    He's mad!

    On the other matter, I have an iPhone and am very pleased with it but this is not an anti-Palm post. It takes more than one person to design a device and it has been said that Apple are obsessive about ironing out the wrinkly bits ```- Apple, note, not one particular individual. And this, I am convinced, is where Apple score highly. If Apple have used techology developed outside them then this is surely another kick in the teeth for Microsoft who are known the world over for using the technology and 'innovation' of others but still can't get things right!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Palm vs Apple

    From all that I've seen, the Pre looks really interesting – unlike most of the rival systems, they seem to be the only ones bringing any advances in terms of user interface to the party.

    The focus of the devices also seems different – Palm are really gunning for the business market (against RIM and the iPhone) but the current Pre programming model excludes the ability to create some of the high-end native apps possible in the iPhone. But most of those apps are aimed at consumers (games, audio toys).

    As for who did what first, and whether Palm wrote the book on this stuff, it seems people have forgotten Apple's Newton, or indeed Psion - personally I hope Pre does well, because I’d prefer to see a market driven forward by innovative rivals, than one where everyone runs the same OS/software and just competes on price/quality (i.e. Android as the Windows of mobile phones).

    I'd also have to concur with John Wills comment - unlike some of Apple's other kit, the iPhone isn't that interesting as a piece of design in itself - there are certainly phones out there that are nicer objects. The key point is the software environment, and most of that (above the BSD layer) IS something they developed.

    Palm have grasped this (again) in creating their own OS.

    One thing I do have to say is that, as always, why the comments about ‘the world is wasting CPU cycles on shiny user interfaces’, as if it’s all a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes, or that crappy user interfaces inherently use less CPU power than ones where some time & effort has been spent on usability and aesthetic polish, or that it’s ever an ‘all they did was add a better user interface’ as if that was actually trivial - if it was trivial, everyone would do it.

    Perhaps it’s a desire to denigrate skills we haven’t chosen to learn?

    Technology is pointless is no one uses it - although that is a really great way to save CPU cycles – will we be able to use them later in the great CPU cycle shortage of 2012??

  14. Dave 142

    @Rob E A Harvey

    sounds like you want a tricorder mate.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Apologies to SynnerCal

    It was the AC below you I was referring to.

    John Wills1: I was referring to more than just the design of the case. I've used plenty of iPhones and they're all shit. As phones they're shit but people don't buy them to use as phones. They buy them to be seen with them and look pretentious and wanky 'flipping' through their cover art or playing Accelerometer Arsehole Celebrity Blockbuilding Weather Reports.

    There is only one thing that an iPhone does better than any other phone out there and, the travesty is, it has nothing to do with being a phone. Give me a PDA with cellphone functionality and the ability to sync to my PC over pretending my phone is a fishing rod any day.

    "I can haz multi-touch! I can haz pretend I iz drinking beer from phone!"


  16. Colin MacLean

    Chill pill for Will

    Um, wasn't the APPLE Newton out long before the first Palm?

  17. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Thumb Up

    @AC 11th June 2009 09:35 GMT

    Spot on. If my Psion 5 made phone calls it would still be in my handbag.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Have to go a long way.

    "For Apple this must all be very flattering. Apple design and everyone else scrambles to copy, usually badly."

    Hilarious! Most of the stuff in the iPhone, for example, is copied from other places. Sure, Apple have polished various aspects, made things slide around on the display, and so on, but the fundamental experience is just a play on what everyone else has been doing over the last decade or so.

    Where Apple have succeeded is in the execution of their strategy: whereas, say, Nokia could have sewn up the Internet tablet market a few years ago, they dithered and instead of committing to the idea, they made it a developers' playpen and made it a heresy to produce anything that might compete with a telephone. Consequently, what you see with the iPod Touch is something that Nokia could have already sold in the millions, but they failed in their execution.

    Interestingly, Jon Rubenstein is seemingly responsible for Apple's execution over the last decade - before the "NeXT takeover" and the iMac, Apple was on a road to nowhere. I'm sure that the average fanboy thinks that Rubenstein has nothing to do with all of this, and it's the magical aura of the Apple brand that made it all happen. Now we'll see whether Apple descends back into the incoherency of the old days (587 different models of everything, yay!) and whether Jobs and friends have to resort to dirty tricks (those patent threats some executive trotted out a few months ago) in order to "compete".

  19. Anonymous Coward

    @Will 22

    There have only been two models... How are they shit exactly "as phone's"? I can make and receive phone call perfectly on my iPhone. As a phone, I'd argue that the ability to peak to other people using similar devices is paramount. "Give me a PDA with cellphone functionality and the ability to sync to my PC..." there are app's for that. Most of them are built in. Calendar. CHECK. Email. CHECK. My phone also syncs perfectly with my Mac. Over the cloud too! Amazing. I don't need to physically plug it into a computer to back up my important files, although, if I want to, I can. I've seen it working really rather nicely with Outlook too. With OS 3.0 it'll play even nicer, admittedly you need Win Server 2007 - or whatever naming convention they are using for that particular release. So, what exactly constitutes a "good" phone? What is on YOUR particular tech tick list? I'm fining it hard to read through your foaming-at-the-mouth fanboyism. I'm not sure what for, but I reckon it's HTC/Windows "Mobile" flavoured, and with that in mind (and having previously owned the vile HTC "Touch") I think you are jealous! Were you the kid that had the free Esso tokens bag when everyone else had those cool Nike bags? It's not your fault.

    Technical note: Wasn't Tony Fadell the guy that invented the iPod? I was under the impression that Rubenstein was the the VP responsible for the iPod division? Moot, I know, but and important distinction to make. With Rubenstein though, Palm have clearly got themselves a very determined and talented individual at the helm. It's certainly good for the Mac crowd as Palm were the only PDA manufacturer that to the platform seriously. The "smartphone" (ugly name) market has just got more interesting. Hopefully this will spur on development for the iPhone, Android AND Palm. Competition is good. Monopoly is more often than not a bad thing - see Microsoft's strangle hold over the enterprise desktop. 8 years and 3 releases later the only "innovation" is Aero peek!* Microsoft are out of the mobile platform game. WinMo 7 will be too little, too late - see ZuneHD.

    *I know that there's more to Windows 7 than that. I find that it's actually quite an impressive release for MSFT, however, there isn't much that we haven't seen before...

  20. David Edwards

    @ steve Todd

    "That level of usability and reliability, in a great form factor, is what Palm lost and Apple now deliver."

    Couldnt agree more. I have recently replaced a broken Palm TX whit an iphone and am doing all those things that I did years ago. I tried so many other PDA winmo, storm and Nokia95 but I feel the iPhone is more like the palm was all those years ago. By that I am agreeing wiht the people who say the iphone is "nothing new" but that misses the point.

    I use to go into meetings in 2000 with all my coprorate diary and email on my PalmPilot while most people thought a calculator and snakes on their Nokia was cutting edge. Unfortunately the world moved on and palm diddnt, till now, however it may be too late.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Will 22

    It's a matter of personal opinion - not everyone has to like (or indeed hate) the same things that you do. Just because you don't like something doesn't make anyone who does an idiot. Assuming that anyone who disagrees with you has an inferior mind however, does make you the sort of person that I'm probably glad I don't know.

    Personally I buy my phones to use as phones (funnily enough - although I text a lot more than make calls), but no matter what great functionality a "smart-phone" might have I still get bored of it after a few weeks - I'm fickle like that. One other thing the iPhone does better than other phones (or rather Apple have done better than other manufacturers) is the provision of extra apps, games and utilities to supplement the user experience. Bollocks to the stupid stuff like beer glasses and fart apps, but there is still a whole host of actually useful apps and some pretty decent games (Wolf3D anyone?)

    As for the interface, in your opinion it may be shit but I think the majority of people (iPhone owners or not) would agree that it's one of the things Apple got very right.

    The fact is, if you want a PHONE purely for it's phone functionality I wouldn't touch any smartphone with a bargepole. None of them can hold a candle to a simple basic Nokia for speed and usability in that area. If however you want a phone which will integrate with pretty much any other part of your life, then there are a few decent choices on the market now and you simply choose the one which is right for you.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Will 22

    Thanks for your second post. Your first made you look ignorant. The second just confirmed that you are not only ignorant but a complete tosser too. Bravo.

  23. Chris Miller

    Pilot v Newton

    The Apple Newton appeared 3 years before the USRobotics (remember them?) Pilot, but it was about two years ahead of the technology needed to make it work effectively (not unlike OS/2 in this respect) and so was:

    - too big

    - too heavy

    - too slow

    The Pilot was the Newton done right.

  24. Richard 102

    iPhone Greatness

    I don't own an iPhone ... mostly because I would have to use AT&T and that is a deal-breaker. But my wife has one and it does one thing better than any other smartphone I've seen: phone calls. I remember the first keynote when Jobs introduced the iPhone; he said (and here I paraphrase) that the killer app for smart phones is phone calls; it's amazing how smart phone makers don't get this!

    Couldn't agree more. I've used a blackberry (for work) and borrowed WinMo and Palm smartphones, and the iPhone wins on this critical piece of functionality. It's so simple and obvious that even a journalist might get it.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Whatever happened to the iPAQ?

    Great kit!

    My 2210 is still in almost daily use after purchasing it primarily for terrain maps.

    But it didn't evolve, got stuck in a rut, was overlooked in development terms and fossilized?

    I think one big aspect/factor overlooked by reviewers is: Apple cross device functionality.

    Not only are they pretty decent standalone devices teamed up with a Mac they are awesomely easy to work together in best of: the sum is greater than its parts.

    Unfortunately with other non-Apple devices it tends to be: the sum is greater than its pants?

  26. Dustin 1
    Gates Halo

    WinMo is not really for smartphones

    It was designed for a Pocket PC experience, not touch screen (only) interaction and phone calls. Version 6.1 is better with some OEM skins on top. Palm Pre and iPhones are smartphones running dedicated smartphone OSs. You can make your WinMo PPC/phone ape like an iPhone, or anything else really......can you do the same customization with an iPhone? Nope. I only mention this because someone brought up WinMo in the context of smartphones. Another quality design from Apple, and a great addition to the Palm line, but they are nothing really special. My omnia takes way better pictures, has voice command and years upon years of Win CE and WinMo apps available. It cost me exactly $0.00 dollars to get one :) (2 year plan).

    P.S. The Omnia has a Kick Ass flashlight (actual bright led) ! Compared it to my girl's iphone flashlight competition.

  27. Eric Dennis
    Jobs Horns


    The Pre is great and all but it has some of the same shortcomings that the iPhone has (lack of a replaceable battery, no flash support, no micro SD slot). Now, this is an opportunity for second generation Android phones to fill in the blanks and put the screws to both Apple and Palm. It's pretty obvious that all of the former Apple folk who are involved with the Pre have made it what it is. Sprint Customers will get a kick out of it, but unfortunately us AT&T customers only have one choice and if your contract isn't up for renewal because you just renewed in February (like me), you won't see an iPhone at a decent price for two years.

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