HP's DeWitt focused on webOS market penetration, working with Rubinstein

Stephen DeWitt, who took charge this week of Hewlett-Packard's webOS global business unit, said he is focused on expanding the reach of webOS, getting more webOS devices into the market and working with Jon Rubinstein, who until recently was leading the webOS efforts at HP.

In a series of interviews, DeWitt sketched out his vision and imperatives for webOS and also put the executive shuffling into context, arguing that Rubinstein will continue to play a central roll in webOS development within HP. Rubinstein, who was the driving force behind webOS at Palm before HP acquired the company, will take charge of product innovation in the HP Personal Systems Group, which encompasses smartphones, tablets and PCs. Both Rubinstein and DeWitt will report to Todd Bradley, who remains the executive vice president of HP Personal Systems Group.

In an interview with This is my next, DeWitt said the new webOS business unit encompasses the old Palm team as well as independent software vendor and developer teams. "This group will also see and provide oversight to the development of all our mobile services capabilities," he said. "As you know, HP is a big company, HP has very intimate relationships with customers from very big ones to very small ones."

DeWitt acknowledged that HP is behind in mobile. "We've got to get out in the market," he told CNET. "We have to learn and react and expand. That's the model here." He later added: "Clearly we need to educate people and inform people that the products that run webOS are out."

Indeed, new numbers from comScore show webOS with just 2.4 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in May.

DeWitt, who led HP's Personal Systems Group Americas region and has been with HP since 2008, said the company will focus on both enterprise and consumer customers but will look to expand webOS' global reach. "Over the next handful of quarters, we'll take what we have now, we'll begin to expand the reach of webOS--we'll do that in a very well orchestrated order, and that will be a key area of focus for the new team," he said.

Rubinstein said he recommended to Bradley that someone from HP who knew about the company's global structure lead the webOS team. He said he is still figuring out how his new role will work. "My primary goal is to help Stephen, and to really make sure that we continue the kind of innovation that we've been doing in the past going forward," Rubinstein told This is my next.

Interestingly, Rubinstein touched on negotiations HP is holding over licensing webOS, and said Amazon.com might make a useful partner. "I would say Amazon would certainly make a great partner, because they have a lot of characteristics that would help them expand the webOS ecosystem," he told This is my next. "As to whether there's been discussions or not... that's obviously not something I'm going to comment about." 

For more:
- see this This is my next article
- see this CNET article
- see this mocoNews article

Related Articles:
HP reorganizes webOS leadership team
Will other companies license HP's webOS? And will this strategy work?
HP positions TouchPad as enterprise play, not iPad killer
HP confirms talks to license webOS, Samsung reportedly interested
HP partners with AT&T for TouchPad, Wi-Fi version coming July 1

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