CES 2010: Interviews with Technology Leaders Rubinstein, Rubin, and Reed
Each year in the late Spring, the Wall Street Journal mounts a conference for executives, D: All Things Digital. The three day extravaganza attracts an audience of CEOs and business leaders - an array of guests that has included Rupert Murdoch, Steve Wozniak, Martha Stewart – because digital WSJ columnist Wall Mossberg and Kara Swisher conduct a series of direct and candid interviews with key technology influencers that will shape the future of our digital lives.
A mini version of this conference was run during CES, and attendees were treated to a series of interviews with Jon Rubinstein, CEO of Palm, Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, and Andy Rubin, Google VP Engineering and Android Co-Founder.
Rubinstein’s session began with a defense of the “ice queen” that starred in the Palm Pre launch commercials. Swisher, who interviewed the Palm CEO, called the star of the Palm campaign “creepy”, but Rubinstein countered the ads raised brand awareness for Palm, and therefore the company considered the launch ads successful. While brand awareness may have been a key metric for Palm, one advertising executive argued that the company should have used brand consideration as the metric by which success ought to have been measured, particularly given Palm's position in the smartphone race.
Rubinstein pointed to the WebOS and its simple interaction model as the key attributes of the Pre and Pixi that have appealed to the Palm consumer. Additionally, he claimed to have never used an iPhone, although he worked at Apple prior to Palm and, as Palm CEO, one might have expected he’d have used an iPhone at least once to understand the competitive device. Rubinstein described the Palm as a consumer device, and attempted to counter-position Android phones by suggesting they are targeted at “geeks”.
On the sticky subject of iTunes syncing, a feature Palm touted at launch that Apple quickly disabled, Rubinstein proposed users keep a release behind on their devices in order to ensure the Apple “fix” doesn’t curb their syncing behavior.
The quantity of apps remains low on the Palm store relative to iPhone and Android, but Rubinstein suggested it was a quality not quantity game. After the announced support of WiFi in the Plus versions of the Pre and Pixi, Rubinstein had nothing to say about whether Voice Over IP calling apps like Skype would be enabled except, “it will be up to the carriers.”Continued on the next page