HP's acquisition of Palm isn't yet complete, yet the company has already suffered a setback in grooming WebOS as a viable rival to Android and iPad OS: Matias Duarte, a core designer of the Palm platform, is heading over to Google to be the user experience director for Android. Both Palm and Google have confirmed the move, according to reports.
Duarte's leap to Google suggests a critical vote of little to no confidence in WebOS, HP, or some combination thereof. Thus far, observers have been uninspired by Palm's platform. InfoWorld's mobile maven Galen Gruman, for example, has dubbed it "a competent but largely copycat mobile OS."
The announcement must sting execs over at HP, which dropped a cool $1.2 billion on Palm with the obvious intent of transforming WebOS into a viable contender against mobile platforms from Apple, Google -- and maybe someday Microsoft. Duarte has garnered a reputation in the industry for his UI design talents, having worked on such projects as the Sidekick and the UI for Helio. It would be like buying the New York Mets in the hopes of turning the team into World Series contenders, only to see slugger David Wright sign on with Yankees during spring training.
The good news for HP, however, is that a couple of potential replacements have entered the job market, namely Robbie Bach and J Allard, both of whom have just left Microsoft. Bach had been actively involved in developing Windows Phone 7, while Allard had worked on Microsoft's now-abandoned Courier tablet device.
This article, "Key WebOS developer jumps ship to Team Android," was originally published atInfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.