Peter Skillman–Designer of the Pre—Leaves HP and Palm

Techcrunch broke the news today that Peter Skillman, the man in charge of the Palm Pre’s design, has left the company. Of all the defections since the announcement of the Palm acquisition, this one is both the most confusing and the most concerning. Simply put, one has to wonder why Skillman would leave given HP’s strongly stated commitment to the success of Palm and webOS. The obvious question: does his leaving mean that HP plans to take webOS hardware design in a different direction than Palm started with the Pre and Pixi?

If so, then rather than seeing devices similar to this:

Pre-Pixi

We might see devices more along the lines of this:

hp-ipaq-glisten-smartphone

HP has good designers who have made a number of attractive products such as their Touchsmart and Envy lines of personal computers. But one can’t argue that the almost Zen-like and entirely unique qualities of the Pre had become a Palm trademark since it was introduced in January of 2009. And, perhaps just as important, webOS itself just fits this look and feel, with its rounded edges and smooth, simple elegance. Honestly, one has a hard time imagining webOS running on hardware that even remotely resembles the more staid and angular HP iPaq Glisten (pictured above).

I remain convinced that HP plans to make devices that leverage the technical strengths of webOS, and they certainly have the talent to do so. I’m just no longer as certain that they plan to follow the singular vision that Palm began with the Pre.

Frankly, Skillman’s leaving is a bit of a blow, at least for what it might imply.

Update: As much as I don’t like to quote Engadget when it comes to news about Palm and webOS, they do make a good point here:

[Skillman] joins… sorry, we need to catch our breath here… Michael Abbot, Lynn Fox, Matias Duarte, Rich Dellinger, and Caitlin Spaan. That’s all the Senior VPs (and almost all the VPs) now gone.

It doesn’t mean that webOS will be any less successful. It is, though, a passing of the guard, so to speak, and a bit sad because of it.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AboutwebOS, AboutwebOS. AboutwebOS said: Does @Palm's Skillman leaving mean we'll be seeing something like an @HP_PC #webOS Glisten? http://tinyurl.com/2ch5ex8 [...]

  2. [...] was a bit of a blow learning that the Palm designer Peter Skillman, the point man in the design of the Pre, was leaving the company. Learning as we did last week that [...]

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