Rubinstein chats it up on The Engadget Show | webOS Nation

Rubinstein chats it up on The Engadget Show 29

by Derek Kessler Thu, 17 Sep 2009 7:45 pm EDT

Joshua Topolsky and Jon Rubinstein on The Engadget Show

So over the weekend, Engadget put on the very first The Engadget Show, and all things considered, it went quite well. Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein was the show’s first guest, sitting down for a one-on-one chat with Joshua Topolsky for a good thirty minutes. They discussed Rubinstein’s time at Apple, his prior relationship with Steve Jobs at NeXT, and how Rubinstein guided both the development of the iMac and iPod as part of his helping turn around Apple.

The discussion then turned to Rubinstein’s move to Palm and the similarities - and differences - with what he’s doing in Sunnyvale to what he did in Cupertino. Unlike the Apple turnaround, which was in a low-growth market (computers) against the monolithic Microsoft, Palm views the handheld market as ripe for expansion with the potential for four or five players to share leadership (clearly, Palm wishes to be one of them). When Rubinstein came to Palm, he did what he did at Apple: evaluate all the current products and narrow the company’s focus. In this case, he killed several projects in development (including the Foleo), leaving Palm to focus on the Centro, Treo Pro, and webOS.

There’s much much more in the interview, including plenty of laughs, a Pixi demo (nothing new here, though), how Palm kept the Pre secret, why Palm made the Pixi the way it did (including the insinuation that the removal of WiFi was Sprint’s idea/request), what’s up with the whole Palm vs. Apple brouhaha, and more than a few wonderful out-of-context quotes from Rubinstein: “It’s nice to be the pretty girl at the dance.” (in reference to Verizon and AT&T publicly expressing interest in a webOS phone).

So head on over and give The Engadget Show premiere a download, and soak in the glory that is half an hour of Palm talk.


The video server's been getting rocked on and off all day, both through their download and Viddler.

Incidentally, when did you post this, Derek? Because just a few minutes ago my stream ground to a halt.

I downloaded it around 4:30 or 5:00, pretty soon after it was released.

But this post didn't go up until around 8:30 or so... I was mashing the refresh button in the App Catalog for about two hours.

Yeah, I'm blaming you for my interrupted stream. Y'know I waited an hour or two as it was before the PreCentral crew came in busting up my second attempt! Good on ya.

Countries like France have been trying to keep industries

O.k, First I want a job with precentral I can provide 3-4 stories a day :). Second call me crazy but to this day I think palm was into something good with the foleo. Look at Nokia and their foleo idea or any netbook for that matter.

Yeah, but the Foleo was ahead of its time demand-wise, I think. Unfortunately not by much. But as explained by Rubenstein, our dearest WebOS may not have been so shiny (or even had enough time to be born) if they'd kept resources on the Foleo. That thing would've been a Linux boy's dream.

Yes indeed. Funny how the idea of the Foleo was trash-talked at the time, yet within six months of its cancellation Asus released the Eee and later Acer the AspireOne, each originally with Linux-only builds and small flash-based hard drives with instant-on and simple, easy access to core features like Web, E-mail, and Word processing. And the Foleo could tether to the Treo. The Foleo was a netbook before the netbook was cool. I wonder what shape Palm might be in had they stuck with it.

Yup. The thing was clever. Would've done okay if the price had been right.

Honestly, as a smartphone user, I still don't see the appeal for the netbook market. The gap between smartphones and laptops aren't great enough to warrant netbooks' existence, IMHO. But the market has spoken, and she says other people have different gadget-ranking priorities.

Ah well. Now that the market's exploded, we can wait for the ultralight WebOS netbook. Note in the Engadget vid how Rubenstein is careful to point out the purposely made WebOS extensible to many hardware sets (as it would be with Linux at heart). He of course doesn't answer the netbook question head on, but that tells me they're at least keeping an open mind.

The appeal of netbooks: bigger screen, bigger (and more comfortable to use) keyboard.

The further appeal of the Foleo: e-mail integration without the need for tethering.

I still want one.

I do not understand one bit.. why would sprint want palm to remove wifi from the phone.. that makes no sense.. wifi is a selling point so it hurts palm's ability to sell the phone a little bit for some potential costumers. also if people use wifi rather then 3g then it costs sprint less money.. meaning people are paying for the everything plan which includes internet from sprint but not using it because of wifi. so basically not using sprints recourses but paying them anyway.

Two [wrong] assumptions in your logic:

- Palm will stay with Sprint forever.
- Palm devices will be sold with contract and unlimited data plan forever.

There are many countries where none of the carriers offers an "unlimited" plan. There are plans with high limits, but they are expensive. With less-expensive plan you pay extra after the limit. You could use data with no data plan at all - every plan allows data access for a fee per KB.

Anyplace there's a transcript of the video?

Any links viewable on a Pre?

The host annoyed me immensely. He put negative spin on anything he asked Jon, he constantly talked down to him and put-down all the devices that were featured on the show. I understand why he's hosting the show, he's funny, but only when hes not doing it at the expense of the guest who so honorably decided to come for the pilot episode.

And so nice of him to give out touchstones.

Topolsky was doing what hosts do best: looking at weaknesses and flaws and opening it up for the guest to offer an explanation. I know we were all asking "Why did you go with Sprint/cut out WiFi/come to Palm/bait Apple/etc?"

People don't bring on guests to ask them all happy questions (unless your Walt Mossberg talking to Steve Jobs), they bring them on for an inquisition.

It wasn't so much the questions he asked, as they were reflective of the questions asked by the Engadget community.

I meant more-so the way he would spin each question so negatively as though he thought Palms CEO had no clue about technology, and his snarky comments throughout too.

Did anyone notice Jon mentioned the gDial app? Isn't that homebrew?

haha this is funny. JR is probably too kind to say "worst.interviewer.ever" but a bunch of negativity usually doesnt grow viewers.

i agree, the host came off like a douche. Someone should have the gumps to tell him "dude, just because you write little tech bits on the web doesn't mean you can be a television host."

I guess if you don't have talent then just be mean and people may not notice you suck.

Totally off topic: I love it when anyone makes refrence to "Sunnyvale" in these articles because it reminds me of the Trailor Park Boys, an amazing Canadian television series (I know, I thought that was an oxymoron, too) that has recently com toan end. I'm sur most of you have seen the episodes and the movie, but if theres anyone out there who hasn't, do yourself a favor and at least watch the movie. I gaurentee you'll be getting the seasons one-after-the-other when it's over.

thoroughly enjoyable show. I love the engadget geeks. Rubenstien is awesome. . Fame suite on: Could Palm be the new Apple, and Apple the old Microsoft?

The short answer is "No". There is long way to go. What they have? One product and an unproven OS without decent SDK. From technical point of view WebOS looks like a WebKit based widget player. It takes more than "cards swipe effect" to become the new Apple. If something can kill Palm now, its over-expectations. If the investors understand that Palm will survive but it will take time, and that they are not going to take the competition by a storm, Palm is fine. Otherwise they may panic when their unrealistic expectations don't materialize and that will hurt or kill Palm.

Hey, it took Apple a decade to turn around! Everybody and his dog are talking about the "iPod revolution" now and it looks like it took the world by surprise overnight, but I remember quite well that during the first 2-3 years of iPod existence it could hardly draw any media attention at all.

Facebook/Twitter are the new Palm
Palm is the new Apple
Apple/Google are the new Microsoft
Microsoft is the new IBM


I think the results are good and there are good chances Palm will survive. But as far as smartphone market goes they are targeting a different role. Not the top anymore. Pixie will be the best selling device IMO. Pre sales will go down or stay flat (compensated by worldwide distribution).

Palm was very good at managing expectations. If they did announce the Pre initial sales, the stock would tank back then. Some expectations were hundreds of thousands on launch and 4 - 5 million or more Pres till Christmas. Now everybody will feel happy with 1.4 million. The "iPhone killer" idea has died for good and Palm is back on the ground. Hopefully here to stay.

Hope Palm considers a larger screen soon.

I just watched an analyst on CNBC at 11:13am Eastern trash talk Palm and gave it a sell rating based on Palm's recent earnings report. He was ticked off that Palm didn't get specific on the number of Pres sold. The host pointed out the irony that Palm may be trying to avoid Sell recomendations by not releasing a low number.

The analyst said the lack of transparency is worse.

I have a suspicion that Palm will make a HUGE deal when it hits 1M units sold. Then it'll make some statistic to 1st phone to sell 1m in "x" time starting in the middle of a fiscal quarter but not end after three consecutive quarters...or some crazy thing like that.

I just watched an analyst on CNBC at 11:13am Eastern trash talk Palm and gave it a sell rating based on Palm's recent earnings report. He was ticked off that Palm didn't get specific on the number of Pres sold. The host pointed out the irony that Palm may be trying to avoid Sell recomendations by not releasing a low number.

The analyst said the lack of transparency is worse.

My first ever double post. Now I can't make fun of others who have done the same anymore :-)

Wow is it me or is Josh an A-hole?
Why are all of the tech blogs so damn anti-anything but Apple?

Such negativity all the time against palm and the Pre it seems.

Josh was such a jerk I doubt I will ever watch another epidose of this...