Apple iPod Executive Defects to Palm

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LOS ANGELES - Jon Rubinstein, a former executive behindApple Inc.'s iPod, on Wednesday was named chief executive ofsmartphone maker Palm Inc., replacing Ed Colligan who is steppingdown after 16 years with the company.

The appointment, effective Friday, comes just days afterSunnyvale, Calif.-based Palm launched the $199 Pre, a well-regardedrival to Apple's blockbuster iPhone device. One of Pre's signaturefeatures is that it syncs with the iTunes music store just like aniPod or iPhone.

Rubinstein, 52, will remain chairman - dropping "executive"from that title - a post he assumed in October 2007 to help bringinnovation back to the company. He said in a statement he isexcited about his expanded role.

"With Palm webOS we have 10-plus years of innovation ahead ofus, and the Palm Pre is already one of the year's hottest newproducts," he said.

Last month, Rubinstein said at The Wall Street Journal's D: AllThings Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif., that he didn't worryabout Pre's iTunes capability annoying his former employer.

"We're trying to make customers happy," he said. "It's agreat feature."

Sprint, the exclusive carrier for the Pre, said the phone'sweekend launch broke first-day and first-weekend sales records fora Sprint device. Sprint Nextel Corp. CEO Dan Hesse said last monthhe expected demand to outstrip supply early on.

The Pre, which looks like an iPhone but sports a slide-outkeyboard in addition to a touch screen, is seen as Palm's chance toreverse a long backward slide and take on newer smartphones likethe iPhone and BlackBerry.

In its fiscal third quarter, which ended in late February, Palmreported a wider loss as sales of its phones fell 42 percentyear-over-year to 482,000.

Palm said Colligan, who had also served as president, plans totake some time off before joining Menlo Park, Calif.-based privateequity firm Elevation Partners.

Rubinstein began at Apple in 1997 as senior vice president forhardware engineering. He helped lead the rollout of the iMac andlater headed up the iPod division.

On Monday, Apple halved the price of its 8-gigabyte iPhone 3G,which came out last year, to $99.

Palm shares rose 44 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $12.43 inafter-hours trading Wednesday, after closing down 71 cents, or 5.6percent, at $11.99. Apple shares fell $2.47 to close the regularsession at $140.25.

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