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The New York Times Talks About Jon Rubinstein

Wed Aug 20, 2008 - 11:04 AM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell

Update: Something that I totally missed in the article is that according to Brodie C. Keast, a senior vice president for marketing at Palm, Ed Colligan is scrapping the use of numbers in product names. We already saw that with the Centro, and now it looks like the Treo Pro is the first Treo to come out without the numbers in the product name.

Laura Holson of The New York Times has posted a very interesting article about Jon Rubinstein and how he's been working towards resuscitating Palm. Jon Rubinstein's presence at Palm is a great asset. If you'll recall from this TreoCentral article:

Before Rubinstein joined Apple in 1997 as senior vice president of hardware engineering and a member of its executive staff, Apple had just lost $816 million, and their profits were waning along with their reputation as an innovator. At Apple, Rubinstein was responsible for hardware development, industrial design and low-level software development. He contributed heavily to Apple's technology roadmap and product strategy. Finally, Rubinstein embarked on an extensive cost-cutting plan that axed both research projects and engineers. Expenses were cut in half.

Holson mentions in the article how Palm has lost its way and how it has tried to innovate beyond the five-year-old Treo with little effect.

From the article:

Mr. Rubinstein, the executive chairman, said he is convinced he can bring Palm back. �Everyone is trying to make an iPhone killer,� he said. �We are trying to make a killer Palm product.�

Well, we know that Palm officially announced the Treo Pro today. And so far, the new WM device looks very promising.

The New York Times article has an interesting story about the first meeting that Stephane Maes, vice president of smartphone product marketing, had with Rubinstein. This story can serve as a look back in time to how Rubinstein is on the ball and how the Treo Pro came into being:

Mr. Maes had loaded his backpack with about 30 different devices to show Mr. Rubinstein. And for three days, Mr. Maes said, Mr. Rubinstein questioned the team on the devices. After listening to their explanations, Mr. Rubinstein canceled several Treos in development. It was a tough session because Mr. Rubinstein thought there were too many products. He demanded design changes in phones only months from release.

I'm sure you recall the WSJ story about how Rubinstein (the Podfather) told Palm's Centro development team, as it was putting the finishing touches on the device, that the Centro wasn't good enough. And how he ordered several palm executives to get on a plane to Asia to work more closely with company's contract manufacturers. Rubinstein began making an impression and getting things done quickly as Palm's executive chairman.

According to The New York Times article, Rubinstein has regular status reviews where each product is pored over and discussed to ensure accountability.

The article mentions that "even the Treo Pro�s packaging was modernized. It looks surprisingly (or maybe not so) like the jewel-box-size package Apple used for the iPhone." I noticed that the packaging was mentioned in the video posted on The Palm Offical Blog today.

You can read the full New York Times article here.

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