Hewlett-Packard has hired Ari Jaaksi to breathe new life into its Palm webOS mobile operating system. Jaaksi will serve as a senior vice president.
Jaaksi comes to HP from Nokia, where he was head of Nokia's MeeGo division. The MeeGo concept was born about a year ago when Intel and Nokia decided to work together on mobile-computing initiatives. Essentially, MeeGo merges Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo operating environments for use in both Intel Atom and ARM processor-based devices.
"HP has certainly talked about new products coming down the line. When Palm was acquired by HP, they lost some people and now they have brought on some good talent," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner. "It comes down to how fast HP is going to be able to execute and get new products into the market, whether it's smartphones, tablets or other devices -- those things Mr. [Todd] Bradley talked about when they announced the acquisition." Bradley is executive vice president of the personal systems group at HP.
Jaaksi is well known as a mobile communications strategist and brings HP more than 15 years of experience in the mobile space. He was one of the masterminds behind Nokia's mobile operating system and software products. Jaaksi recently left Nokia, citing "personal reasons."
Jaaksi joined Nokia in 1998 and held various positions, including the head of Nokia's mobile browser development and the head of Nokia's software research lab. At Nokia, Jaaksi was instrumental in creating Nokia's open-source software strategy, the Linux-based software platform running on Nokia 770 and N800 Internet tablets, and Nokia's mobile browsers and related tools running on all Nokia products.
Before joining Nokia, Jaaksi was a professor of software engineering at the University of Tampere and worked as a software developer and engineering manager at various software companies. Jaaksi also served as an adjunct professor at the Tampere University of Technology, but is now relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area.
An R&D Guru
Jaaksi is reportedly being joined by Victoria Coleman, Samsung's American researcher. She is expected to manage application and platform development for the next iterations of webOS. Coleman was a vice president with the corporate technology organization of Samsung Electronics. Before that, she was director of security initiatives at Intel. She has a long R&D history, including six years at SRI International as a director and 10 years at the University of London as a professor.
HP acquired Palm earlier this year for about $1.2 billion, or $5.70 a share -- a 25 percent premium on Palm's stock price. HP was betting on its then-CEO Mark Hurd's ability to successful integrate mergers and turn Palm into a powerhouse asset for the computer maker. Now Hurd is gone and Jaaksi comes on board to try to extract value from the acquisition.
When HP acquired Palm, Bradley called Palm's webOS the ideal platform to expand HP's mobile strategy and create a unique HP experience that spans multiple devices. There were rumors of a webOS-based tablet that didn't come to fruition. So far, HP hasn't done much, at least not publicly, with Palm. But the arrival of the two new stars signals eminent moves.
"HP has the resources and the capabilities. They've shown they can bring in some good talent, which is always important," Gartenberg said. "Now it's an execution play."