Last week HP Personal Systems Group (PSG), the organization that makes all of its PCs and mobile devices, announced that it has split its handheld business unit out of the notebook computer team, and has recruited Dave Rothschild as VP of the new business unit. I think Dave's a good choice, and he's an example of how everything's interconnected in Silicon Valley. He was CEO of Pixo, a mobile OS company whose software was incorporated into the iPod. At Pixo, his head of engineering was Larry Slotnick, who went on to run engineering at PalmSource. Earlier in his career, Dave was on the PowerBook team at Apple, where he would have known Satjiv Chahil, who is now head of marketing for PSG. Satjiv was once at Palm, where he worked with Todd Bradley, who is now executive VP of the whole PSG organization.
I ought to make a chart of this stuff – it's almost like a big three-dimensional soap opera.
Rothschild will be based in California, but the bulk of the mobile team will remain at Compaq's old headquarters in Houston.
Anyway, it's fun to speculate on what the change means. HP has been steadily losing sales in the mobile market (it was down 20% year over year in Q3 of 2004). Meanwhile, the Palm Treo has been growing rapidly, and is now available on Windows Mobile. There's a real possibility that Palm could become the leading Windows Mobile brand, which would not go over well at HP.
I think neither Dave Rothschild nor Todd Bradley will be content to just re-sell generic devices made by HTC and the other Taiwanese ODMs. They might also be willing to consider offering operating systems other than Windows Mobile. I hope we'll see much more interesting products from them in the next 12 to 18 months.