John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Rubinstein Interview: With webOS Transition Under Way, It Was Time to Leave HP

Asa Mathat | AllThingsD.com

On the heels of the news of his departure from HP Friday, Apple veteran and onetime Palm head Jon Rubinstein spoke with AllThingsD about the move and the fate of Palm’s webOS.

Why leave Hewlett-Packard now?

A few months before we shipped the TouchPad, I told Todd Bradley (executive vice president of HP’s Personal Systems Group) that once we shipped I wanted to move on. And he asked me to stay for a while in an advisory role and to help out with the transition to webOS and brainstorming about the directions of PSG, so I told him I’d stick around. And I did. And now there’s a path for webOS and PSG has its path and it’s time for me to move on. This has been in the works for quite some time.

What are your thoughts on webOS as it exists today? Do you think HP made the right call open sourcing it?

Do I think HP made the right call open sourcing it? Versus what? (laughs) You know, we always developed Enyo so it could be open sourced because we saw it as a very powerful cross-development platform. The future is clearly Web-based apps. And some people don’t get that, and I certainly understand, but that is the reality. And, frankly, we were way ahead of our time. WebOS is a great piece of work and really it’s just beginning.

Okay, assuming that’s the case, what does the future look like for webOS?

Well, if HP invests in it the way it says it’s going to and they can build a community around it — and that’s not just people developing for the platform, but other companies using it — it will do well.

Can anyone break through the Apple/Google lock on the smartphone market?

The smartphone market’s a tough one, because it’s controlled by the carriers in a lot of ways. So it really depends on what the carriers do. The route to market isn’t controlled by consumers, it’s controlled by carriers.

What went wrong with TouchPad? Clearly, it wasn’t the resounding success for which you’d hoped.

Well, it wasn’t exactly given much time to find out. But I really don’t want to rehash all that. There’s really no point.

Do you regret selling to HP?

This wasn’t something where I had an opinion. The process was very carefully crafted, as all aquisition processes are, and HP is the one that won the process. I don’t get an opinion on the subject; I never did.

What are your plans for the next year?

I spent the past few years working really hard on webOS and working really hard on turning Palm around and getting it into good enough shape where someone would want to buy it, so I’m going to take a break.

So are you retiring?

No. I’m going to spend some time with my family and think about what to do next. Who knows what I’ll do. Anything’s possible.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik