Jon Rubinstein, chairman and CEO, Palm
What makes him powerful: Rubinstein rose to prominence at Palm rival Apple, guiding the development of Apple's ubiquitous iPod. Lured over to Palm in 2007, Rubinstein oversaw the development of Palm's Pre device and webOS platform. Then, in June, just days after the launch of the Pre, Palm named Rubinstein as its new chairman and CEO, replacing longtime chief Ed Colligan.
Of course, Rubinstein has his work cut out for him. Palm today faces a range of challenges from the likes of Apple, Nokia, Research In Motion and others. But analysts generally agree that the strength of the Pre--and its webOS platform--show that Palm has a fighting chance. Indeed, many industry observers proclaimed webOS as the first platform that can directly compete with Apple's much-vaunted iPhone in functionality and glitz.
Thus, all eyes will be on Palm as it works to expand its distribution with wireless carriers, diversify its product range (it has already announced its Pixi follow-up device) and--perhaps most importantly--make a dent among consumers who are rapidly becoming inundated with new, powerful smartphones. Although Palm's efforts so far have been solid rather than explosive (it disclosed Pre sales of around 800,000 during its first few months of availability) Palm's power rests in its status as a wily upstart--a player to watch. --Mike