Nokia Hires Former Palm Design Guru for MeeGo

Despite upheaval in the topmost ranks of the company, Nokia is building a team of technologists and strategists to help push the company's technical strategy.

LONDON - Like a pro sports team in a rebuilding phase, Nokia continues to make incremental moves that can add together to make the team a force to be reckoned with down the road.

Nokia has landed Peter Skillman, the former head of design at Palm. As reported by Engadget at the Nokia World 2010 show here, Nokia hired Skillman to head up the user experience and services division for MeeGo. MeeGo is a Linux-based open-source mobile operating system project that merges the efforts of Intel on Moblin and of Nokia on Maemo into one project.

Nokia's chief technology officer, Rich Green told eWEEK MeeGo is one of the strategic projects Nokia has to get out the door quickly to compete more effectively with the likes of Apple and Google in the smartphones and devices space. Nokia introduced a set of sleek new smartphones at Nokia World, and the addition of Skillman bodes well for the future.

As with the sports team analogy, the addition of a stalwart defender or a prolific scorer could mean the difference between first place and last. Likewise, Nokia's addition of Skillman could mean a big hit with consumers, as Nokia moves into a new era of smarter phones, tablets and other devices where design could make or break the product.

Skillman spent 11 years at Palm and led the team that delivered the Palm Pre, which is considered to be a feat of design by many in the industry. Skillman, formerly vice president of design at Palm, left the company amidst its acquisition by HP. Their loss is Nokia's gain.

During his 11 years at Palm, Skillman held various positions including vice president of user experience and director of new product development. Previously, Skillman was the director of product design engineering at Handspring, where he was responsible for Treo smartphone mechanical engineering and industrial design. He also oversaw the design of Visor handheld products before helping the company transition to wireless products. Before he joined the handheld and smartphone space, Skillman was senior project manager and designer at IDEO, an international product design and consulting firm. In this role, he led projects ranging from design of portable computers for Dell Computer, future camera strategies for Kodak and development of the first production GM/Hughes electric vehicle.