HP Fattens Palm Division with Nokia, Samsung Executives

HP has reportedly beefed up its Palm WebOS team with a MeeGo executive from Nokia and an R&D executive from Samsung. Even internal HP staff are now focused on WebOS.

As Hewlett-Packard prepares to launch the first new smartphones under the Palm brand since it purchased the WebOS maker, it's apparently also beefing up its Palm staff with key executives from some of its rivals.

Ari Jaaksi, who resigned earlier this month from Nokia citing "personal reasons," is now the senior vice president of WebOS at HP's Palm division, according to the Wall Street Journal's All Things D site. At Nokia, Jaaksi was head of the MeeGo division-the burgeoning operating system developed jointly by Nokia and Intel.

Additionally, HP has reportedly scooped up Victoria Coleman, formerly the head of research and development at Samsung, to oversee the platform and application development of WebOS.

And finally, the Palm side of the business has laid claim to Steven McArthur, HP's senior vice president of consumer applications, who is said to now head up product marketing for Palm. Joining him, reports All Things D, are Enrique Lores, senior vice president of worldwide sales for HP's Personal Systems Group, who now is head of the Palm sales staff, and Steve Manser, senior vice president of product development, who will oversee product management.

Previous to the HP purchase, Palm lost a key WebOS executive, Mike Abbott, its senior vice president of software and services. Abbott resigned in April as the then-struggling smartphone maker put out the word that it was interested in being purchased. Wanting to keep its staff of core employees intact, presumably to make the company more attractive to potential purchasers, Palm soon after implemented a retention program that offered "equity awards and cash bonuses" to employees who stayed with the company for two years. The cash bonus was set at $250,000.

HP announced its intentions to buy Palm in April for $1.2 billion, and the deal officially went through in July. Since then, HP has made it clear that Palm's WebOS was a major reason for the purchase and that it plans to release several devices running the open-source operating system.

"With WebOS, HP will deliver its customers a unique and compelling experience across smartphones and other mobility products," HP Executive Vice President Todd Bradley said in a July 1 statement. "This allows us the opportunity to fully engage in growing our smartphone family offering and the footprint of WebOS."

With Jaaksi, Coleman and McArthur on board, HP appears better prepared to do exactly that.