Former Danger and Helio Design Director Now at Palm

Engadget is reporting late today that Matias Duarte is now employed at Palm and is part of the team driving the design and UI of Nova, Palm's next generation operating system. Matias was formerly the Director of Design, at Danger where he was responsible for the user experience and interface design. He also held a similar position at Helio.

According to his public LinkedIn profile, Duarte has been working at Palm since September 2007 and his own job description field is teasingly vague at quote "something new... :-)"

Palm CEO Ed Colligan has been talking up Nova for a quite some time now. In the last quarterly conference call he enthusiastically remarked the new system software combined with the new "game changing hardware" designed for it, will usher in a "new era for Palm." The latest hints from executive comments point to a end of year developer unveiling of some kind, with products to follow in early 2009.

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Great News

Surur @ 7/4/2008 6:18:15 AM # Q
This means we can really expect something different. I think current users are tired of the PalmOS UI, after looking at the same thing for the last 10 years, so they want a revolution, not an evolution, and bringing some-one in from the outside should bring just that.


RE: Great News
SeldomVisitor @ 7/4/2008 6:30:28 AM # Q
It means any ideas he has that are revolutionary, if any (I never subscribe to the Cult of the Individual no matter how hard Marketing Departments try to make them seem superhuman), won't show up til...when?...2010?

Or are we to believe someone hired in July will have something revolutionary into Production by December?

RE: Great News
LiveFaith @ 7/4/2008 10:01:52 AM # Q
Apparently, Palm is about to roll the dice on something new come 09'. Even if it fails it will be a welcome try. Waiting with Treo 680 in hand and expired 2yr ATT contract, but nowhere to go.

Pat Horne
RE: Great News
LiveFaith @ 7/4/2008 10:05:22 AM # Q
Here's his pic. Dude wears strange earrings, but has the aura of a saint. Wow, this looks really big.

Pat Horne

RE: Great News
mikecane @ 7/5/2008 2:18:38 PM # Q

You were actually ... witty!

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Oh, okay, September?

SeldomVisitor @ 7/4/2008 6:42:12 AM # Q
Apologies, I see he is rumored to be a September hire.

This is weird - Palm was advertising for the equivalent of his position well into 2008.

Reply to this comment

More devices

GF_PalmInfo @ 7/4/2008 9:58:55 AM # Q
I think Palm is trying to make different kind of devices instead of the PDA phone only. That's why they are hiring the UI specialists, like Paul Mercer.

RE: More devices
bhartman34 @ 7/4/2008 11:00:56 AM # Q
Maybe I'm the only one that thinks this, but I don't want a new UI. I want new innards. A good deal of what's in Palm's UI actually works now. It's a very simple UI, to be sure, but that's the beauty of it, I think. It's not complicated: You tap an icon on the screen, and the app launches.

What Palm OS needs is new innards.

Give it more robust multitasking.
Up the screen resolution on devices and icons.
Give us the ability to do voice dialing over a Bluetooth headset.
Give us Wifi.
Give us GPS, instead of just Google Maps with MyLocation (which can only locate me within 900 meters, anyway).
Enable Graffiti (Graffiti 1, for bonus points) without the use of a hack.

If all they do is slap some lipstick on, it's not going to be very impressive at all. Part of the whole point of Palm was the KISS philosophy. If they lose that, they've truly lost their soul - and for what?

RE: More devices
GF_PalmInfo @ 7/4/2008 11:30:19 AM # Q
I think the new OS should be able to handle what you mentioned.

Like you, I like the existing Palm UI. Maybe they only need is to make the icons look more modern. I think the existing UI is good for pda but not for other devices, like tablet or sub-notebook. Anyway let's see what is cooking.

Reply to this comment

Am I the only one ...

CFreymarc @ 7/5/2008 12:39:19 AM # Q
that has bad feeling about this? While he has a good design track, does he have the moxy for his ideas to survive the moxy-filter that has killed so many high concept designs that Palm SLA'ed in the past four years and then shelved?
RE: Am I the only one ...
LiveFaith @ 7/5/2008 9:47:03 AM # Q
Yeah. He will probably begin with an iPhone killing design, but will get hacked down to a Treo 805p with the Home & Phone buttons swapped to different sides, with 6 flavorful colors.

Pat Horne
RE: Am I the only one ...
bhartman34 @ 7/5/2008 10:25:51 AM # Q
If he comes up with some radical, "iPhone-killing" design, it should get knocked down. The UI needs to be updated (higher-resolution icons, a higher resolution screen), but the last thing Palm needs is a radical redesign that detracts from the simplicity Palm is known for. An "iPhone-killing" design is only going to come off as a "me too!" design, anyway. (Samsung Instinct, anyone?)

The UI needs to be modernized in terms of resolution and color depth, but changing it radically would be the kiss of death to Palm.

RE: Am I the only one ...
LiveFaith @ 7/5/2008 1:21:15 PM # Q
Sorry, maybe just keep the buttons the same and that'll do. :-D

Pat Horne
RE: Am I the only one ...
CFreymarc @ 7/6/2008 1:05:40 AM # Q
Glad I am not the only one. His last two jobs, he pretty much had a clean slate to start. Now he has a tough job of confronting an established cash cow and a myopic board of directors. A flight back east and round of golf at John Scully's favorite country club is in order if he hasn't already.

RE: Am I the only one ...
hkklife @ 7/6/2008 1:25:15 AM # Q
Can ANYONE answer the question of what became of Rab Haitani?

He designed the sublime, elegant and (like it or not) timeless Palm OS UI.

Really, Palm could make do with just a mild revamping of the classic Palm OS UI. They were already on the right track with the mild updates begun on the 700p (camera app, threaded messaging app, the initial setup screens) and the GSM Centro/Treo 680 phone app.

So start with the above GUI improvements and spread them throughout the entire Nova OS (or at least offer a "classic" Palm OS launcher mode, ala Vista's XP theme etc).

Then get Rob back onboard, bring in someone to be the tap counter for the new millennium, redo all of the icons in high-res and/or optimize them for larger-than-320x320 resolution, get some anti-aliased/smoothed fonts in there, and license Graffiti 1 from Xerox and offer users a choice of G1 or G2. Ok, Palm, there's your UI for Nova in a nutshell. Now get back to working on the underhood stuff that really matters!

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: Am I the only one ...
GF_PalmInfo @ 7/6/2008 3:30:03 AM # Q
Thanks hkklife for posting the link. This is the first time I read it. I found that the logic behind Palm sounded logical but not acceptable. I agreed the product should focus on customers' needs but Palm should also take care of customers' wants. It is because the customers' wants will become needs over time, e.g. Internet. It seems that Palm is using this excuse to defense their problem (do nothing IMHO). Even as what Rod mentioned that Palm is to focus on the basic of Palm OS but how many improvement or enhancement had been done during the last few years.

Another point is Palm is a profit-making company, the product design must meet the needs and wants of customers in addition to match the features provided by their competitors. It is not a lab or academic research. If the company cannot provide a good product and the similar features provided by the competitiors, the company cannot survive in the market. What's the point of making a product when the company cannot survive.

Like the hardware requirement, why they need to care about whether I use it or not. Like the computer, every computer has a analog modem regardless whether you use it. As customers, we want the choices. We do not want to be limited or determined by manufacturers. For example, I want Wi-Fi, then give a wifi version of Treo with high cost. I am asking Palm to make all devices Wi-fi ready.

My 2cents opinion.

RE: Am I the only one ...
SeldomVisitor @ 7/6/2008 8:47:39 AM # Q
> Can ANYONE answer the question of what became of [Rob] Haitani? ...

He is the Chief Product Officer at "Vitamin D, Inc" according to his LinkeIn profile:

== "...Current
== * Chief Product Officer at Vitamin D, Inc.
== Past
== * Product Design Architect at Palm, Inc.
== * Director Product Marketing at Handspring, Inc.
== ..."

Vitamin D:

== "The company was founded in 2007 to develop solutions for
== the next generation of intelligent computing. Our goal is
== to combine elegant user interface design with artificial
== intelligence to simplify people's lives. The founding team,
== Rob Haitani, Greg Shirai and Celeste Baranski, were all early
== employees of Palm & Handspring, and were at the center of design
== and development of the PalmPilot and Treo products..."

RE: Am I the only one ...
mikecane @ 7/6/2008 7:13:24 PM # Q
HOLY BLEEP!!! Haitani has LEFT Palm?

I hope he got good $$$ for his stock!

RE: Am I the only one ...
SeldomVisitor @ 7/6/2008 7:20:45 PM # Q
I do not know Haitani from a hole in the ground, but why is it a surprise that anyone has left Palm?

I'm not asking that in a mean way, BTW, nor being facetious. From this side of the country it certainly appears that leaving a company appears to be the norm for employees over there in Silicon Valley. And it appears that this particular West Coast employee hung in there for a VERY unusual extra length of time.

RE: Am I the only one ...
hkklife @ 7/6/2008 11:22:26 PM # Q

Take it from Mike & me that Rob was *THE* UI god that made Palm OS such a phenomenal leap forward in its day (1996ish). While Hawking might have been the subject of all of the Wired articles (etc), Haitani was sort of the unheralded genius

I haven't read Piloting Palm in quite some time but I believe he was with the firm from the early pre-USR days through at least late '04...

"In his 2001 interview, Rob talks about the interaction design priorities that emerged as he led the team to design the Palm OS and original applications. He decides what should be most prominent based on frequency of use, and strives to make the most often used interactions accessible in a single step."

I consider Haitani-again, not knowing him firsthand or anything-but based on his post-1996 activities-to have been much more crucial to Palm's successes after the Pilot than Hawkins himself.

P.S. Interesting, that connection between Numenta/Hawkins & Vitamin D/ex-Palm & HS staff...

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: Am I the only one ...
mikecane @ 7/7/2008 2:46:22 PM # Q
Man, Haitani was Palm's GUI God.

He created the prototypes for everything on a Powerbook using HyperCard!

He COUNTED TAPS to make sure we didn't get frikkin Windows Mobile.

Piloting Palm book review:

Read what I quoted about Haitani there. What about Ron Marianetti?

RE: Am I the only one ...
mikecane @ 7/7/2008 2:53:30 PM # Q
Christ, I just peeked at that, my own, review.

Who knew Ed Colliagn's IQ ended after just three words?

And that in these latter days he'd even forget *those*?

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mikecane @ 7/5/2008 2:21:40 PM # Q
Not a fun task, designing a UI that has to span a variety of devices.

Possible handheld (ie, PDA), cellphone, possible subnotebook, possible other possibles.

MS coudln't do it. Apple wouldn't do it (rightly so! OS X GUI on the iPhone?!!?).

Not holding my breath.

RE: Multi-use
LiveFaith @ 7/5/2008 9:58:36 PM # Q
Who said the UI has to be the same on a phone and subnotebook? Doesn't make sense 2 me Big Apple boy.

Pat Horne
RE: Multi-use
abosco @ 7/6/2008 3:44:35 PM # Q
Mike, out of curiosity, will you be buying an iPhone 3G?

(Or are cell phones still just a new gimmick to you?)

NX80v + Wifi + BT + S710a

RE: Multi-use
hkklife @ 7/6/2008 4:02:22 PM # Q
I predict he'll eventually end up with an iPod Touch and just use it for Skype-ing around from hotspot to hotspot (not trying to sound rude or flippant-it's really the cheapest/easiest way to enjoy an iPhone-esque experience without a hideous 2yr contract, AT&T's spotty coverage & the exhorbitant monthly service charges).

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: Multi-use
mikecane @ 7/6/2008 7:15:51 PM # Q
I do not Skype.

I do not Twitter.

I will not allow anyone to Friendfeed me.

iPhone 3G is on the Buy list.

First, let everyone else shake out any bugs.

You know I never do First Adopter stuff. When it came to the LifeDrive, I wish I'd stayed NO Adopter! Though it came in handy for the season finale of Doctor Who:

RE: Multi-use
nastebu @ 7/6/2008 9:33:55 PM # Q
I'm getting one as well. My first smart phone. Anyone else?

RE: Multi-use
mikecane @ 7/7/2008 2:48:21 PM # Q
>>>(Or are cell phones still just a new gimmick to you?)

And by the way, you snot kid, I've *had* cellphone for about two years.

Yes, you may laugh. Then pity me!

RE: Multi-use
abosco @ 7/7/2008 4:47:26 PM # Q
Nokia 1100: The official phone of Northern Zimbabwe.

It's delightful that you (masochistically) stray away from the pack. Although I might be voting for Nader this year as well.

If I may make a recommendation, it would be this: buy it when you get the chance. If you don't, you're going to start waiting for certain updates, then certain applications, and before you know it, nine months have gone by and you're hearing rumors about the new model, and the cycle repeats. Throw caution to the wind and give it a shot. Hell, if you threw $400 at a Lifedrive, you can spare a few c-notes and a contract.

Last thing - did you ever buy that Civic, or are you still riding horseback?

NX80v + Wifi + BT + S710a

RE: Multi-use
hkklife @ 7/7/2008 4:53:03 PM # Q
IIRC, he got the LifeDrive with a dead Microdrive for $200ish on E-Bay or Craig's List etc.

At the time, I pleaded with him to get a TX + 4gig SD card instead or even a nice used T5 with the 1.1 ROM update. The LifeDrive remains the worst Palm-branded product I've ever owned, bar none. It's also probably been the best built Palm product ever, from a build quality standpoint, but that's nigh irrelevant as the innards were absolute CRUD. Even replacing the Microdrive with a CF card isn't enough, as the BT & wi-fi stacks are horribly unstable and the general Garnet implementation on the LD is just atrocious.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: Multi-use
mikecane @ 7/8/2008 1:32:04 PM # Q
>>>Hell, if you threw $400 at a Lifedrive, you can spare a few c-notes and a contract.

>>>IIRC, he got the LifeDrive with a dead Microdrive for $200ish on E-Bay or Craig's List etc.

Well, here we separate the stalkers from the amateurs!

And you're BOTH amateurs.

Total cost of LifeDrive - about $150. That's *including* all 3 bits: dead LifeDrive from ebay, 4GB CF, and paying somneone to install the OS to the CF.

I have to say I've gotten *more* than $150 worth of *misery* from the freaking thing.

No, I never did get a Civic, or any car. I am still doing that biped thing. This is NYC. Cars are more trouble-making than freedom-making.

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we'll see, doubt it....

joad @ 7/7/2008 1:25:35 AM # Q
Judging from the perspective that with NOTHING coming out this year they can't even be bothered (or make a big deal out of) slightly tweaking their CURRENT "premium" models to work with Google Maps' "my location" feature, there ain't much hope left for this company. They can't just hire Shadowmite for an evening to fix this up for us? What ARE they doing over in Sunnyvale that preempts a rationale for staying in business?

If you'll stick it to the few remaining customers you have for your few "long-in-the-tooth" models you haven't much of a future coming. When die-hard Palm users like myself are actually considering the possibility of downgrading to an iPhone just to get some decent support, Palm had better pull a miracle out of their rear in 2009 or we're gone.

**Another vote for a >100MB RAM Treo**

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
SeldomVisitor @ 7/7/2008 6:31:37 AM # Q
It's not at all clear to me why Palm should expend any extra resources/money on implementing any new features for PalmOS over and above what they have done with the Centro; we already know Centro is the PalmOS "line" from now on, not Treo.

Where's the ROI?

That's a serious question.

I think Palm made exactly the right move with this.

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
PacManFoo @ 7/7/2008 11:54:25 AM # Q

It's not at all clear to me why Palm should expend any extra resources/money on implementing any new features for PalmOS over and above what they have done with the Centro; we already know Centro is the PalmOS "line" from now on, not Treo.

Where's the ROI?

Oh I don't know...maybe...say to.. PLEASE THEIR CURRENT CUSTOMERS!

The ROI would come in the form of repeat customers. Oh who am I kidding, Palm has already pissed off their fan base. They better stick with their Fisher Price knock offs so that they can make a new base amongst the 13 year old crowd.

The last known classic PDA user.
I've recently upgraded from a Palm TX to a Newton MP2000!

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
SeldomVisitor @ 7/7/2008 12:20:36 PM # Q
I would think Palm is interested in their Treo fans adopting their Nova phones in the future.

Early-adopters/fan boys are perpetually early-adopter/fanboys - keeping them satisfied with the "current crop" is NOT cost-effective.

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
PacManFoo @ 7/7/2008 1:10:04 PM # Q
In most cases Losing Customers is not cost effective.

Those early adopter/fanboys are alot fewer then they once were. As much as Palm considers themselves the Apple of moblie devices, they are not. Apple is now the Apple of mobile devices. Palm is now the bastard offspring of Windows Mobile.

The last known classic PDA user.
I've recently upgraded from a Palm TX to a Newton MP2000!

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
joad @ 7/7/2008 1:29:00 PM # Q
It's exactly the shortsighted view that SeldomVisitor stated that is resulting in legions of Palm's former customers leaving for iPhones and Blackberries. Ignore your customers after the sale and eventually they'll leave you to rot...

I've been with Palm since near the beginning (early 1997), have promoted their products to many high tech companies and IT professionals as well as in user groups and conventions, and this one act by Palm has finally pushed me into a level of disgust that may lead to a transition over to Blackberry for good.

What about the **CUSTOMER'S** "ROI," Palm? The Treo form factor hasn't completely been replaced by the Fisher Price Centro as evidenced:

...and they are *still* pitching these *current* devices at Enterprise users...

Support *AFTER* the sale - *AFTER* a customer has invested in your product, is the sign of a company truly interested in its future. Palm is showing over and over that it's the kind of company that doesn't give a rat's patootie about fixing current problems or issues with *current* products - they just figure we'll keep coming back for whatever $600.00 garbage phone they release next simply because it fixes a few bugs they built into the current one. SONY plays that game with its computers - ask any IT professional if they'd *ever* buy a SONY laptop or desktop.

Hopefully someone's working on a PalmOS emulator for the upcoming Blackberry Bold. Many hundreds of dollars in accessories and software that I love, stuck on hardware that's receiving next to "zero" improvement or attention by their maker. By the time Palm brings out any hardware worth considering, they'll be like the proverbial tree in the forest with nobody but pimply Centro kids around to hear them fall.

**Another vote for a >100MB RAM Treo**

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
SeldomVisitor @ 7/7/2008 1:41:26 PM # Q
PalmOS Treos are End-of-LIfe - Palm outright said that. Why in the world does ANYONE think Palm should write NEW software for them!?

I can imagine making changes to the PalmOS Treos' software to allow this little-used Google Location stuff could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost (that is, if Palm actually has an organized methodology to conceive, design, develop, write, test, (and iterate) software - which I assume they do). Without knowing anything that's going on internal to Palm I simply don't see how Palm could hope to get those bucks back. Can you imagine what carrier recertification alone could amount to?

The "prosumer" devices are gonna be Nova-based. Palm wants to sell THOSE to the Treo fanboys, not keep them content with PalmOS Treos.

What they've (not) done makes total sense from this reader looking in from the outside.

[how strange for me to defend Palm! But I've done that a few times in the past, too, so precedent has already been set!]

RE: we'll see, doubt it....
joad @ 7/7/2008 2:05:33 PM # Q
I understand why they won't invest in making their products more usable from THEIR perspective. That's been Palm's Achilles heel all along - they rarely walk in their customer's shoes anymore. Apparently their short-term view is that it's better to fool new customers with smoke-and-mirrors of slick advertising, rather than keep loyal customers interested.

Even their "maintenance release" for the 755p didn't bother updating Googlemaps, Pocket Tunes or even Docs to Go with the current patch of the ROM-based software (which was available long before the 755 was released). They were releasing a ROM patch anyway, and they cared so little for their customers that they left outdated garbage in the ROM that we'd need to mitigate ourselves by leaving patches in precious RAM. You'd be hard pressed to say it would have taken "hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost" to AT LEAST patch some ROM apps while they were wiping the entire ROM anyway...

"New Friends are Silver, Old Friends Are Gold," and it's sad that Palm seems to favor sacrificing a lot of gold to concentrate on picking up a little fickle silver to get by...

**Another vote for a >100MB RAM Treo**

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