John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Exclusive: Palm Loses Mobile Design Guru Matias Duarte to Google

Looks like Palm is suffering a bit of post-acquisition talent drain.

Mobile user interface master Matias Duarte has left Palm and evidently hired on at the most obvious of places: Google.

Duarte, who led development of Palm’s webOS UI as the company’s senior director of human interface and user experience, has jumped ship, Palm (PALM) confirms. And while the company refuses to tell me where he’s going, multiple sources say it’s Google (GOOG), where he’ll presumably be working on Android, the company’s open-source platform for mobile devices–noncompete clauses permitting, of course.

Duarte’s departure is a significant loss for Palm and new owner Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which has said it plans to “double down” on webOS. His prowess with user experience and information design is well known in the industry. Before Duarte landed at Palm in 2007, he was design chief at Helio. And prior to that, he led the team that created the Danger Hiptop mobile device. When Palm announced the Pre at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2009, it was Duarte who introduced the design of webOS.

So, as I said, a real loss for Palm as it heads to its new home at HP. And a bittersweet moment for Duarte, who had great hopes for Palm’s reinvention. As he wrote in a 2009 blog post: “When I started in this field, the Palm V was the unquestioned leader in mobile devices. To this day I believe it represents one of the best consumer electronic products ever created. I always aspired to match Palm in simplicity, usability and design–so now that I’m here, I feel like a kid who’s just been handed the keys to Daddy’s convertible.”

Looks like you’ve got the keys to the Segway now, my friend.

Google and Duarte have not yet responded to requests for comment. I will update here if they do.

UPDATE: Google confirms that Duarte has joined Google as User Experience Director for Android. The company declined further comment.

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