HP shifts industry icon sideways

HP has moved Jon Rubinstein away from the management of its webOS product and replaced him with HP insider Stephen DeWitt.

Rubinstein was the inventor of the iPod, who went on to try and save Palm before it was bought out by HP.

His move comes at a critical time. HP is banking the farm on the use of Palm’s webOS in practically every appliance it makes, and is depending on adoption of the OS to increase.

Rubinstein’s last job was to usher in the webOS 3.0 operating system, but it is clear that HP is disappointed with the lack of attention its new toy is getting.

Todd Bradley, executive vice president of personal systems group, and member of the executive board at HP said that DeWitt had a proven ability to build and scale organisations into global, multibillion dollar operations. He was confident that DeWitt will take webOS to the next level.

However Bradley had to admit that Rubinstein was a Silicon Valley icon and was needed to “apply his considerable talents across the PSG portfolio.”

Rubinstein has been named senior vice president for product innovation in the personal systems group at HP. His job is to “propel innovation across product lines” and the rest of his job involves leveraging, which sounds like he has been made the “manager of special projects” whose office is in the lift and he has to force open the doors when they get stuck.

DeWitt, has been leading the PSG Americas region at HP, where he has done quite well. He will be in charge of all aspects of the webOS business, including engineering, research and development, sales, marketing and go-to-market support.

HP wants him to create a fully integrated, global developer and independent software vendor program to deliver new consumer and business applications. There is also some management bollocks about DeWitt’s team creating a dedicated mobility practice with HP’s partner community.

DeWitt said his first job was to get a decent developer community up and running. One of the problems with webOS is that it lacks the profile and the apps to run.