Jon Rubinstein is trying to do for Palm what he did for Apple. As the head of hardware engineering at Apple until 2006 (and the first head of the iPod division), Rubinstein, 52–aka the Podfather–led the development of what’s under the hood of the iPod, iMac, and iBook, helping engineer the company’s dramatic turnaround. Since taking over R&D and product development at Palm, which invented the smartphone only to be outdone by Research in Motion and Apple, he has poached talent from Steve Jobs and focused Palm on webOS, a long-overdue new operating system, and a touch-screen smartphone of its own, the Pre. The future of Palm, which saw third-quarter revenue drop 71%, appears to hinge on whether Rubinstein’s Pre, scheduled to launch around the time you’re reading this, can live up to the buzz it generated at this year’s Consumer Elec-tronics Show in Las Vegas. — by Chuck Salter
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