Peter Skillman leaves Palm, this one hurts | webOS Nation

Peter Skillman leaves Palm, this one hurts 57

by Dieter Bohn Mon, 09 Aug 2010 10:04 pm EDT


Palm's Vice President of Design, Peter Skillman, is leaving Palm, reports TechCrunch. Skillman was behind the riverstone design of the Palm Pre, as we reported over a year ago before the launch of the Pre:

The team literally kept photos of Zen gardens in their office and used them to help decide whether a feature or design element would fit on the Pre -- if it didn't fit in the garden, it likely didn't fit on the Pre.

Skillman had been with Palm for over 11 years and was one of the most intelligent and engaging minds at Palm we've had the pleasure of interacting with over the years. Skillman got it, and was one of the major reasons I didn't give up hope that Palm could 'get it' in the lean years between the Centro and the Pre. From discussing how to intelligently add features to phones well before webOS was a glimmer in Rubinstein's eye to showing how the Touchstone can affix to a wall, Skillman has been a favorite around these parts. We wish him the best of luck.

After the break, our January 2009 video of Skillman demonstrating the original Palm Pre.

Source: TechCrunch



Geez, at this rate will the last one out please turn out the lights?

I guess that's what happens in the transition of being bought by another company. The whole riverstone concept didn't really work so..... I don't see this as a big deal. Don't get me wrong, I love riverstones but not as a design for my phone. Too much dead landscape all around.

I disagree, I love the concept -- and not to take and argument from Apple or anything, but all phones have dead landscape around the edges, it is required.

I liked the design simply because it IS different, it doesn't look like every other phone out there. That is one of my complaints about Android devices, they all look very similar. My wife got an EVO about two weeks ago, and now every time there is a commercial with an HTC phone on it my 4 year old daughter screams "there's mommy's phone!" And of course "mommy" says "do you ever see commercials with Daddy's phone?", and my daughter says "Nooooooo" and then laughs. My wife likes to rub it in...


you don't see any lambo commercials, do you? Tell you wife that. Just cause there's more commercials, that doesn't make it better.

Let Mikey's wife enjoy her hamburgers from McDonald's, I'll stick with the steak from Capital.

Mixing zen with productivity didn't work for me. If the Pre had the weight and solidness of a riverstone, the concept might have won me over. But shiny plastic riverstones with seams and the borg queen, I think Palm lost a lot of potential buyers on their first impression.

A zen MP3 player? Sure, maybe at least. But a river stone that broke open to review little tic tac keys and a view's like green tea with carbonation.

Best of luck to him. Not much zen-ness about HP I'm sure. I really wish zen embraced documentation editing, because this zen appliance has brought me too much anxiety on the basics.

this how I feel, been a palm fan since my first palm pilot, but the writing is on the wall. Last one left turn out the lights, I'm moving to android and the Evo or Epic 4G. I'll hope for the turnaround and might be back in a year.

Something must be going on that these original Palm folks are leaving. People have said before that Palm is dead, is it really happening?

He wasn't that important anyway. We all know Ruby really singlehandedly designed the Pre.

"And another one bites the dust"
I'm losing hope in HP/Palm/WebOS...

Time to hire some HTC designers. I may be in the minority on that, but I prefer that form factor anyway. The shape of the Pre, combined with my ham hands is not a great combo for drops. It's all about the OS to me at this point.

I agree on the design part. I think WebOS would be great on a device like the EVO or the Incredible.

I do think the concept is pretty solid andin the hands of for example the htc hardware guys it will be a killer.

I see new winds blowing in engineering design for smartphones in HP/Palm headquarters. After all HP have at least 40.000 engineers, to get a new stunning device webos device LTE and dual cdma/GSM and...

WELL SCREW....hanging on by my fingernails. well he mihgt have designed it. but the community and homebrew is keeping it together.

Wow, there's no sugar-coating this one. Really sorry to see him go. I got a chance to talk with him briefly at CES '09 for the Pre launch, and you could tell he was deeply passionate about what they'd done in creating the phone. A charismatic person. Definitely HP & Palm's loss. Best of luck, Mr. Skillman, thanks for what you've done.

As for Palm, hopefully this will be the opportunity some new talent needs to capture the limelight. I'm still as hopeful for webOS's future as I've ever been.

Even though the VP of Software and Services, the Director of UX, and now the VP of Design have all bailed out?

Okay am I the only one thinking that the whole garden thing was ridiculously lame?

I bet the Antenna people over @ Magic inc. used a similar design criteria for the "Phone that shall not be Named".

Pretty excited that when the C40 comes out it will live on as the perfect compliment to my Bonzai tree...

Thanks for my Pre Skillman!


Good luck @ Apple!

So he was the creative force behind the Pre? With him gone, and the architect behind webOS, I wonder where Palm will go with their design language from here.

Probably where everyone else went: iPhone ripoffs :(

Man....I really hope this is not another example of a huge company thinking they know everything and killing all creativity.

Starting to get a *teensy* bit worried about any new device from Palm. Hope it's not another fantabulous slab phone like the uberphone.

Well since his design led to the mess of oreo'd Pre's I'm not that sad to see him leave. Great design that cannot be implemented isn't great design.

Well he had been there for 11 years. Sometimes it's just time to move on. Best of luck and thanks for the passion.

I was just watching the video, and I had forgotten that Pre doesn't normally have four rows of icons in the launcher. Woops... God bless homebrew. (Don't get me wrong, the stock stuff is pretty too, but customizing is just fun.)

Okay am I the only one thinking that the whole garden thing was ridiculously lame?

I bet the Antenna people over @ Magic inc. used a similar design criteria for the "Phone that shall not be Named".

Pretty excited that when the C40 comes out it will live on as the perfect compliment to my Bonzai tree...

Thanks for my Pre Skillman!


Good luck @ Apple!

I bet H/P has plenty of people to help. I am glad what he did and wish him luck. I dont think he is any John Ive designing the white i-phone. I do wonder why he left
1) Better job
2)No job security at H/P
3)Doesnt see eye to eye w Ruby or H/P and not being heard by Palm/HP anymore
4) All of the above

I love the pre design but those round corners are also the reason why the battery is smaller.


I think collectively they ALL hurt. What I really wonder is how many of the regular, programmer/engineer type people have already left or are still to leave? Of course we hear of these big names, but we will never hear about the Joe and Josephine programmer/engineers that took those designs and architectures and made them come to life.

Sure, HP has tons of talented people, but can they pick up where these innovative folks left off? Obviously only time will tell. Perhaps all these people leaving is the reason why we have not seen anything announced: HP might be going completely back to the drawing board for the next device.

Thanks also for the wonderful sharp edge to the keyboard, which hurts my hand everytime I use letters on the edge.

The design of the Pre was inspired and unique. It was the manufacturing process that produced the Pre's that was substandard. I assume you have original Sprint Pre. Much of the plastic's sharpness has been removed in the Pre +. I agree with the keyboard though. Maybe the contact pad beneath the keys are too flimsy. I sometimes have great accuracy and sometimes not. I think I notice even some temperature dependent errors too! All of which goes to prove- design is important but the manufacturing process is just as important. This guy might as well move on since every one is moving to a slab design including probably palm. Phone design is dead for now.

I guess the Pre 2 will be, most likely, a mindless slab-type design or, at worst, and iPaq-esque monstrosity.

Too bad; the Pre's beautiful and functional design was truly inspired and distinctive. Now I'm starting to give up hope on Palm. If Sprint had another vertical slider smartphone, I'd probably make the switch to it this week.

Gotta wonder why everyone keeps leaving.

Are they all not liking the vision/route/road mad they've been shown for webOS devices?

Are they all pretty much done with what they had to do for webOS & really all is needed is refinements?

Maybe just better job opportunities were offered, who knows?

" Man....I really hope this is not another example of a huge company thinking they know everything and killing all creativity...."

That's EXACTLY What it is.

However, In looking at this video... I would NEVER have this guy sell anything for me.

I think the PRE was Palms "One Hit Wonder". All of this activity is really making me think that corporate america really stinks!! the LOVE of money..

I would argue the Pre wasn't their "One Hit Wonder" for a couple of reasons:
1. It wasn't a hit
2. They had hits with the Treo 600/650/700 and all of the Palm Pilots (except the Zire and Lifedrive)
Having been a Palm faithful seeing the Pre die was tough, because don't harbor any dellusions: the Pre is dead, and Palm is dying.

It's exactly the thing: Skillman designed the hardware. HP bought the company he worked for because of the software. HP has most likely already said they're going to be doing a lot of the hardware part of building the smartphone.

The other people who've left were PR people. Which Palm failed at. Marketing people. Which Palm failed at. An OS engineer who probably had an enormous amount of dough thrown at him and most likely had multiple offers from the companies that lost out on buying Palm.

Look at it this way: This company came up with a downright revolutionary platform for their mobile devices, and somehow they blew it in the decision-making process and didn't blow away the industry like webOS really should. (I mean, come on. iOS is goofily managed by Apple, bloated, and can't properly multitask...and Android's architecture is reliant on way too much non-standard java and a gucked up linux kernel...and it's still not as scalable as even WinMob but it wants to BE the NEW WinMob). I'd probably not shed too many tears about the decision-makers jumping ship at this point. Make some room for fresh thinking. Maybe some decision-makers who look to the community for ideas for a change.

And with yet another departure, hope fades. Even if HP could toss a boatload of engineers into the mix, it will take time to come up with the next software and even longer for the next hardware. If it ever makes it to market, the mysterious C40 will come up short after all this delay. WebOS has been effectively delayed in development due to the acquisition. I love webOS but in reality it can't afford a pause. The momentum built up was too little and the pause brings this ship to a grinding halt.

Look at all the defects to EVO and that is only just the beginning. will release and bring us what? Bug fixes for the most part. In my opinion, WebOS will go into a sustain mode and slowly fade. 2.0 will be the last gasp, Rubi's last token offering to the faithful.

Sorry, but I'm not feeling the Palm love anymore. I'm holding on to my Pre for the short term as I explore the likes of Evo and Epic.

I will miss touchstone and swiping and being on the outside of the mainstream. Hold the door Mr. Skillman, I'm coming.

goodbye palm.

I'm finally leaving this mess to probably get the Epic 4g when it hits sprint in two weeks.

before you call me a troll, read on.

I've been a palm fan since the treo days (hence my username) but I'm tired of palm always falling short in just about everything they do. My year old pre is on it's last leg: 3 cracks in the screen, plastic chipped off on a corner, volume rocker button is broken, on/off switch broken, usb port door broken, resets sometimes when I open the slider, and I an could go on. I'm just getting tired of no battery life, slow performance (yes I homebrew and I have uberkernal - but it comes at the cost of even less battery) and lack of obvious features continally missing that we need patches to remedy.

Yes, webOS has it's cards, multitasking and synergy, and android os has it's shortcomings, but the features you get in so many other places in android are just blowing webos away. Google maps app and google nav on android are just awesome, android 2.2 has the gpu enhanced support, and the speed we keep waiting for here, they have flash 10.1 now and 50000+ apps. I run a business so I need a lot of these features that webos keeps neglecting, like document editing (thanks a lot for forgetting us, docs2go and dataviz!), the todo app and calendars on the pre suck. Heck palm still hasn't gotten email to view in landscape! Why do we need a patch for that after a year!!!? And the webos browser doesn't save your usernames and passwords after a browser session? Android and ios did this stuff last year!

I've waited for years for this company to deliver, but alas, I have a job and the features in webos and my almost broken pre with it's awful battery life just aint gonna cut it.

goodbye palm. I was rooting for you and hanging on for the past 5 years, but it's time to move on.

yes you are a troll.

not a troll; everything that you said about Palm and Android are dead on. Palm did such a poor job of designing the OS that even the basic, BASIC, PIM functions are painfully slow, underpowered, and lackluster. Even the phone dialer itself is a mess. The pre has a few positive points: multitasking, synergy, and notifications, but compare that to my EVO and it doesn't stack up. WebOS needs a drastic and immediate update in UI, performance, and hardware.

Seeing Mr. Skillman leave hurts... but once again I point out that Apple has seen their fair share of big people coming and going, and they're... well, they're still Apple.

In fact, the people who is running Apple NOW are not the same people who ran Apple in 2000, or 1995, or 1990...

So the people running Palm in 2015 won't be the same people who were running Palm in 2010, or 2005 or 2000... but as long as Palm is able to be successful on their own terms (and not try to be some kind of iPhone killer), then I'll be content.

Actually, Apple's not the best example here. Apple's primary 'visionaries' (Jobs and Ive) are still in charge, just as they were in 2000. Prior to Jobs' return in 1997, and Ive's subsequent rise to power within Apple when Jobs tapped him to come up with Apple's new design language, the company wasn't doing so well. And though the people under those two have changed in the time since, their hands are still very much the ones on the reins.

However, not all companies have the management controlling things quite so directly as Apple does, so your point remains valid. I just would've probably picked a different company than that one to back it up. ;)

I'm sorry Peter Skillman had read my post

4. The good people in Palm have gone. Steve(iphone) should be careful about the people in Palm, not HP. Steve's current appraisal of Palm is a good software company is a good move. Maybe this will attract more and more good people in Palm to jump ship to Apple.

OMG! The sky is falling!!


OMG! The sky is falling!!


I imagine, most of the work Skillman has done will be in the next Palm phone to be released later this year. He probably started thinking about leaving a while ago.

I'm very curious about the next phone, and what it will look like.

This doesn't worry me at all. He was the chief designer in a company. Then the company was acquired. Now he is suddenly much lower in the design hierarchy. He might decide to keep the position he has built up to over decades, by going somewhere where he can be on top again.

The magic of these phones is webOS. I didn't buy it because of the way it looks.

It does fit nicely in my hand and my pocket though.

The most important thing is webOS. However, I do love the riverstone concept. I think Palm/HP has enough feedback from users to know how to improve on an already awesome design. Skillman created the mold HP/Palm can now make it better. I hope they don't create another "mindless slab" the riverstone is what sets it apart from the androids & iphones.

So what? Really, I was never much thrilled about the Pre's physical appearance. Riverstone i'd like, yes, but they poorly realized the design idea.

The Pre never felt like a

not gonna happen. there will be no new phone coming out. many is this so far?

Palm was a failed company. Of course people are quiting and/or being shown the door. While I love my Pre, it was a major failure for variouse reasons. The CEO and VP's are idea guys. HP has plenty of people like that. These guys went from running the farm to being religated to the hen house. Its hard to put your ego in check and realize your no longer the boss. Good luck Mr. Peter Skillman.

The Palm Pre failed to be a popular choice among consumers. Its, lets face it, an also ran.

What are the primary reasons it failed?

1-Hardware Design?
2-WebOs Software Design?
3-Marketing/Advertising program?

Another Primary reason?

that is the sound of the fat lady singing.

I'm in the design field and you know the reason why Senior Designers leave companies? 1. because of lack of design opportunities or 2. change in design direction. Let me translate for you......Skillman didn't like the idea of his future as being the designer of slate tablets. In other words, there is ZERO chance of new phone hardware coming out soon if even ever.


HP is fucking palm up with all this shit! I swear if I waited all this damn time for nothing or a piece of shit device it's not going to be good. What the hell makes them think that they can make these stupid ass moves. They're getting rid of all the people who pretty much made webOS and the devices it was on. Epic 4G here I come...

first everyone complains abojt thehardware, then they complain about losing the guy that cooked up the very thing that came from the 'riverstone' design. The round plastic. The curved slider. The plastic everywhere, the keyboard edge to keep the rounded look, etc

don't get me wrong, I like my pre. But for the thousands that cry about using plastic, that was needed to create the rounded screen that is all one piece.

if you cry about Pre hardware, you can't also cry about the guy that leaving came up with the design...

no one should criticize HP/Palm or worry about the future until they listen to the entire podcast of webOSradio interview with Rahul Sood. Listen again to what he says at minute 16, minute 48. minute 1:05. Listen to the entire Q&A at the end. Listen again. He gets webOS better than most of us, and most of us REALLY get it.

It may not happen like magic in 30 days, but over time they are going to do amazing things with webOS. And no one can tell me HP doesn't know how to design hardware...

And by the way, there are design "concepts" made out of clay, and their are design engineers that figure out how to manufacture something that looks like the clay model. You can give this guy credit for the concept, but you can't tell me he sat down ad a CAD station and created all the parts. And you can't tell me that he also spun up stamping machines and mills to create prototypes of every part. Credit him with creating a vision that wasn't practical to manufacture. Then recognize that even Steve Jobs can get burned when he lets form get in the way of function.

Then either listen to Rahul Sood, or quit crying about the hardware that this "legend" came up with but everyone also wants replaced. You can't have it both ways.

HP will be fine. Palm will be fine. The next round of phones will have very little (if any) HP influence - especially if they arrive sooner than Palm originally projected.

What people need to cry about is whether HP has the clout to launch on more than just Sprint, and in the timeframe that VZW may get the iPhone and suck all the oxygen out of their stores.

You think Palm WANTED to launch exclusively on Sprint? No, they HAD to because VZ and AT&T didn't want to go first, and didn't want to dilute their major plans for Android and iPhone. They don't like being first, and they don't like variety that is hard to support. One or two Operating Systems is all they really want. Microsoft was powerful enough to get KIN in to Verizon, it's failure proved to Verizon not to be first. And the story goes on.

Stop worrying about HP/Palm/webOS. All 3 will survive, thrive, and even surprise every so often.