Former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said that selling Palm to Hewlett-Packard (HP) was a "waste," considering Palm's technologies are now seen in today's most popular devices.
"I'm not sure I would have sold the company to HP. That's for sure," said Rubinstein. "Talk about a waste. Not that I had any choice because when you sell a company you don't get to decide that. Obviously, the board and shareholders decide that. If we had known they were just going to shut it down and never really give it a chance to flourish, what would have been the point of selling the company?"
Rubinstein added that Palm's technologies, like multitasking and Synergy, are now seen in mobile operating systems like iOS, Android and Windows Phone. He said it's even said in desktop operating systems like Mac OS X. Palm may have been ahead of its time.
"It's not just mobile platforms," said Rubinstein. "If you look at the notifications on Mac OS X, it looks just like webOS, too. We did a lot of things that were very, very innovative. Obviously, multitasking, notifications, Synergy, how we handled the multiple cards… Our over-the-air updates and mechanism has been updated by everybody. Our whole Synergy concept is now becoming much more common. I don't think anyone has implemented it as well as we did yet, but clearly they're all heading down that direction."
For those who need a refresher, Palm was an American smartphone manufacturer founded in 1992. During its time, the California-based company developed smartphones like the Pre, Pixi, Treo and Centro. It later released its one and only tablet, the TouchPad. Older devices ran the Palm OS Garnet operating system, but webOS was introduced as a replacement in 2009.
In April 2010, Palm was sold to HP for $1.2 billion USD. Rubinstein stuck around after the acquisition, and HP seemed optimistic about its new purchase.
"Palm's innovative operating system provides an ideal platform to expand HP's mobility strategy and create a unique HP experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices," said Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group, at the time of the acquisition. "And, Palm possesses significant IP assets and has a highly skilled team. The smartphone market is large, profitable and rapidly growing, and companies that can provide an integrated device and experience command a higher share. Advances in mobility are offering significant opportunities, and HP intends to be a leader in this market."
But a little over a year later, HP said it was discontinuing all production of webOS devices. In August 2012, HP created a wholly-owned subsidiary called Gram, which consisted of Palm's remaining components.
So what is Rubinstein doing today?
"I'm on two boards," said Rubinstein. "I'm on Amazon and Qualcomm. And there's a logic behind those two boards. I'm a big believer in mobile and integration of the home, and wearable computing and all that stuff, and having it all tied up in the cloud. There's sort of a common theme across those companies. I think they're uniquely positioned for the future of where things are going. That's how I spend some of my time. I help out some small companies with some time. And I'm taking some time off as well right now."