His exit wasn't a surprise, according to AllThingsD, which said Rubinstein — a former Apple executive who helped develop the iPod — hadn't been seen at HP's offices in months.
After former HP CEO Leo Apotheker announced last year that the company was going to stop making WebOS-based hardware, Rubinstein's role appeared to be reduced and he was assigned to a "product innovation role" that AllThingsD said was a move intended to "lessen its PR impact when he finally left."
The tech blog quoted Rubinstein as saying he was going to take a "well-deserved break after four-and-a-half years of developing WebOS."
An engineer by training, Rubinstein left Apple in 2006 and later joined private equity firm Elevation Partners, a major investor in smartphone maker Palm. In June 2009 he replaced Ed Colligan as Palm's chief executive.
PalmOS was replaced by WebOS, which was used on several Palm devices and on HP's TouchPad tablet. This week, HP released a timeline for making its WebOS platform open source, with the goal of completing the process by September.
– Andrea Chang
Photo: Jon Rubinstein at CES in Las Vegas in 2010. Credit: Michelle Maltais / Los Angeles Times
Hewlett-Packard, which announced last month that it would make its WebOS available to the open-source community, said Wednesday that the platform's full source code would be released to the public by September and gave a timeline for when it would release individual elements.
On Wednesday, the Palo Alto tech company released version 2.0 of WebOS's developer tool, Enyo, "giving the open-source community immediate access" to the application framework for WebOS.
Enyo 2.0 enables developers to write a single application that works across mobile devices and desktop Web browsers from the WebOS, iOS and Android platforms to Internet Explorer and Firefox.
"This is a decisive step toward meeting our goal of accelerating the platform's development and ensuring that its benefits will be delivered to the entire ecosystem of Web applications," Bill Veghte, HP's executive vice president and chief strategy officer, said in a statement.
The WebOS code will be made available under the Apache License, Version 2.0, beginning with the source code for Enyo.
Other individual elements of the WebOS source code, such as core applications like mail and calendar as well as its Linux kernel, will be made available until the full code base is contributed to the open-source community in the fall, HP said.
– Andrea Chang
Photo: An HP TouchPad tablet running apps on the WebOS operating system. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times
Hewlett-Packard said it will make its WebOS software available to the open-source community and Chief Executive Meg Whitman said in two separate interviews that there are plans to create new WebOS hardware — including tablets.
The announcement is the latest reversal for HP after the company indicated over the summer that it was going in a different direction. In August, then-CEO Leo Apotheker said HP would ditch its smartphones and TouchPad tablet computers and was considering spinning off its PC operations. Two months later, HP said it would keep making PCs under new CEO Whitman (Apotheker was fired shortly after his August announcement).
On Friday, the Palo Alto tech giant said that it planned to continue to be active in the development and support of WebOS, and that by combining the platform with the development power of the open-source community, "there is the opportunity to significantly improve applications and Web services for the next generation of devices."
The WebOS platform offers several benefits to the ecosystem of Web apps, HP said, including allowing developers to easily build applications using standard Web technologies. For device manufacturers, it provides a single Web-centric platform to run across multiple devices.
"As a result, the end user benefits from a fast, immersive user experience," HP said.
The announcement sparked speculation that HP would get back into the tablet business, and in interviews with the Verge and TechCrunch, Whitman said the company planned to roll out new devices in the future, probably in 2013.
TechCrunch also obtained an internal email Whitman sent out to HP staff announcing the WebOS news. In it, the former California gubernatorial candidate thanked employees for their efforts "under very difficult circumstances during these last couple of months."
Of WebOS, she said in the memo: "Together, we have an opportunity to make it the foundation of a new generation of devices, applications and services to address the rapidly evolving demands of both consumers and enterprises."
So far, HP hasn't seen much success with its TouchPad tablets. The company had high hopes for the device as a rival to Apple Inc.'s iPad and for its smartphones, both based on the WebOS software that the company picked up in acquiring Palm Inc. last year. But neither the tablet nor such phones as the Palm Pri, Pixi and Veer have caught on with consumers, and after Apotheker's departure, HP was forced to slash TouchPad prices to $99, which spurred sales.
– Andrea Chang
Photo: Former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was named chief executive of HP in September. Credit: Jose Luis Villegas / Reuters
The HP TouchPad isn't dead yet. While Chief Executive Meg Whitman and the top brass at Hewlett-Packard Co. decide what to do with WebOS, the tech giant is reportedly set to sell one last batch of TouchPads at the fire-sale price of $99 on EBay.
The last time HP marked its lone consumer-minded tablet down to $99, the company did so in an effort to unload the slow-selling slates after Whitman's predecessor, Leo Apotheker, decided to abandon WebOS and WebOS devices such as the TouchPad and the Pre smartphones.
Officals at HP were unavailable for comment Wednesday night on the reported EBay sale.
The TouchPads that will reportedly hit EBay will all be refurbished units and they'll hit the online retail and auction website at 6 p.m. Dec. 11. A TouchPad with 16 gigabytes of built-in storage will sell for $99, and those with 32 gigabytes of storage will be available at $149, the reports said.
HP employees will have a chance to buy the refurbished TouchPads on EBay — and not on HP's own online stores or anywhere else — before the sale goes live to the public, TechCrunch said.
"In an effort to give HP employees first chance at a very limited supply of refurbished TouchPads, there will be a short delay between when the product is posted live for sale on EBay and when the general public is notified of the sale," the memo reportedly said.
HP will also be selling "an optional three-piece accessory bundle with a case, charging dock and wireless keyboard for $79.
TouchPads will be limited to two per EBay user "sold on a first come, first served basis," the reports said.
So, who's excited about possibly buying a tablet with probably little or no app or manufacturer support?
– Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A Hewlett-Packard TouchPad tablet running apps on its WebOS operating system. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times