SAN JOSE, Calif. – The name of at least one senior engineering manager may be on the short lists for a senior management slot at both Apple and Hewlett-Packard--Jon Rubinstein.
Ruby, as he was known in Apple circles, could be sought after as a replacement for Mark Papermaster who reportedly left his job as senior vice president of devices hardware engineering at Apple after less than 16 months on the job. Rubinstein may also be among candidates to replace Mark Hurd, chief executive of HP who left the company Friday (Aug. 6) following a sexual harassment investigation.
Perhaps the most likely scenario for the 52-year-old engineer is that he will stay on in his current role as head of a new mobile devices group at HP. Rubinstein joined HP in April when it acquired Palm where he was chief executive.
Rubinstein's charter is to reinvigorate the smartphone business for the Palm group as part of HP and to extend that business into new product categories such as tablets. Given Palm's recent struggles and how far HP is behind in the burgeoning field of tablets, ebooks and smartphones, he has his hands full in what is one of the most strategic fields for HP's future.
For that reason alone, HP would be advised to keep Rubinstein (below) focused on the mobile job before him. Indeed, HP needs more of a generalist who can grapple with the company's broad range of businesses that range from desktop printers to data center servers, networking gear and services to run them.
HP's Jon Rubenstein
But that doesn't mean Apple would not want back the man who helped drive success for Jobs. Reports from both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal indicated Papermaster lost after just 16 months his post in part due to a fall out with Jobs.
Winning Rubinstein would be a double coup for Apple. Not only would it get back an executive with a long track record working under Jobs, it would steal away from a top competitor the man charged with building an Apple-like position in the market.
Rubinstein is far from the only name on either company's short list. In April, Apple hired Mark McDermott as a senior director as part of its acquisition of circuit-design specialist Intrinsity. McDermott has a long pedigree playing senior director roles in microprocessor design at Cyrix, IBM and Intel.
McDermott's LinkedIn page says Apple is "looking for the best and brightest chip heads" at its Lonestar Design Center in Austin, born in part of the Intrinsity acquisition. Indeed, Apple has been adding top semiconductor design talent since it acquired low-power processor maker P.A. Semi in April 2008.
According to reports, Apple has already filled Papermaster's slot by giving his responsibilities to Bob Mansfield, senior vice president for Macintosh hardware engineering. Indeed Mansfield, not Papermaster, appeared on stage at a July 16 press conference to talk about antenna problems with the iPhone 4.
Reports said Papermaster's departure from Apple could be due in part to the Antennagate issues around the iPhone 4. Mansfield previously managed work on the Apple A4 processor, the retina display and touch screens used in the iPhone 4.