Palm hires top designer to compete with iPhone

Palm is getting serious about design: The handset maker, which has been the target of acquisition rumors lately, has hired a top Silicon Valley designer who got his start at Apple in the late '80s. Paul Mercer, an ex-Apple computer engineer, started working at Palm three weeks ago on a line of new products, but the company won't disclose further details on the products. Mercer brought two other designers to Palm from his firm, Inventor. Palm has made it clear it did not acquire the design firm, which Mercer founded.

"He's the best of the best in this space," said Paul Saffo, an adviser to Samsung. "The guy has a knack for designing complex systems in ways that are accessible."

Palm's maneuvering may be in response to the buzz generated by the stylish iPhone. Analysts believe the iPhone's debut earlier this year has shifted the handset industry's focus from hardware to software design. 

For more on Palm's new designer:
- read this article from The New York Times