Palm has become the premiere sanctuary for Steve Jobs refugees. As if to cast aside any doubt over this fact — and to underline that it's working — the smartphone maker tonight promoted former iPod chief Jon Rubinstein to CEO.
He's just one Jobs ex among many. A quick tally:
- Palm's financial backer, Elevation Partners, employs Fred Anderson, the former Apple CFO who publicly battled with Jobs over blame for Apple's stock-options backdating scandal.
- The company also hired away Apple's former head of Mac PR, Lynn Fox.
- Then there was the poaching of Mike Bell, who had been at Apple for 16 years and was senior VP for product development.
Jobs had reason to be agitated. Rubinstein successfully instigated a crash development program that, somehow, conjured an incredibly slick device, the Pre, from a company whose technology had been languishing for years.
In the words of tech blogger John Gruber, "it's quite possible that they have done everything right since" the launch of the iPhone. "Palm designed, built, and released the Pre, WebOS, and an app store, all in about two years."
The Palm team's experience at Apple no doubt helped along the way; it would appear some very detailed knowledge of Apple's iTunes helped allow the Pre to magically sync with the media software, an impressive feat.
The Pre, just released, promises to give Apple's iPhone the most worrisome competition it's yet seen.
And now Rubinstein has his prize, taking control of the whole company from 16-year Palm veteran Ed Colligan. If Jobs needed a catalyst to get him fired up about his return to the helm of Apple later this month, he sure got it.