Stephen DeWitt, new webOS GBU head, approaching webOS as a salesman 64
Stephen DeWitt has been in charge of HP’s webOS Global Business Unit for just a day now and he’s already been pressed into the interview circuit. DeWitt took the time to talk with Engadget and mocoNews about his new role and how the webOS GBU is planning to continue moving forward.
First and foremost, DeWitt made it clear that his placement as the new head of webOS was not a reaction to the lukewarm launch of the HP TouchPad. It was about placing an experienced global sales manager – DeWitt, who comes to webOS from leading HP’s Personal Systems Group Americas – to manage what HP hopes will be a rapid expansion of the webOS group.
At the same time, it was also about positioning now-former Palm GBU head Jon Rubinstein, who DeWitt called a “national treasure”, in a position where he could best exert his talents. That position happens to be as the SVP of Product Innovation for the entire Personal Systems Group, where Rubinstein will be able to put his engineering touch on HP’s personal computing systems as well as future webOS devices. Rubinstein’s going to be closely involved with webOS for now, after all, he led Palm for over two years. Disappointing as some of his tenure may have been, Rubinstein should know what’s going on, and DeWitt’s going to have to lean on him for support.
Addressing the lukewarm reception of the TouchPad, DeWitt revealed that July 1st was in fact a “soft launch,” and that July 17th would bring the real launch with loads of advertising from HP and their retail partners. The 17th should also bring the launch of the HP MovieStore on the TouchPad, and soon after will follow the first over-the-air update to webOS 3.0. The update is said to bring features that HP was working on but couldn’t finish in time, bug fixes, and even changes made in response to the early reviews and reactions towards the TouchPad.
DeWitt brings to the table a wealth of experience in global scale and sales. During his tenure as the head of PSG Americas, DeWitt oversaw the launch and expansion of nearly 275 HP Stores across South America, not to mention increased sales, share, and profit for the entire PSG. While HP’s not planning to bring their brand store model from Caracas to Kansas, they are working closely with retailers like Staples and Best Buy to craft a good sales experience for webOS products. That said, if what we’ve seen so far (laggy, frozen, and just plain dead TouchPads out on display) is any indication of that close cooperation, DeWitt’s going to have to kick things up a notch to get the massive employee bases of these retailers involved.
Part of that experience we’re glad to see is that DeWitt understands it’s not about the device or the OS or the apps or the support – it’s about how all of that is combined to create an experience. And right now, the TouchPad experience is lacking in some ways, and he acknowledges that and that HP is working to plug those gaps and take things a step beyond. As he said to Engadget, “My hope is that in six months we're going to have a discussion about all of the new stuff that we brought to the market, all of the innovation that we've brought to the market, not just playing catch up.” Amen.
Check out the full interviews at the source links below.