Looks like Palm is suffering a bit of post-acquisition talent drain.
Mobile user interface master Matias Duarte has left Palm and evidently hired on at the most obvious of places: Google.
Duarte, who lead development of Palm's WebOS user interface as the company's senior director of human interface and user experience, has jumped ship, Palm confirms. And while the company refuses to tell me where he's going, multiple sources say it's Google, where he's working on the development of Android, the company's open-source platform for mobile devices.
Duarte's departure is a significant loss for Palm and its new owner, Hewlett-Packard, which has said it plans to "double down" on WebOS. Duarte's prowess with user experience and information design is well known in the industry. Before he landed at Palm in 2007, Duarte was design chief at Helio. Prior to that, he led the team that created the Danger Hiptop mobile device. When Palm announced the Pre at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2009, it was Duarte who introduced the design of WebOS.
So, as I said, this is a real loss for Palm as it heads to its new home at HP--and a bittersweet moment for Duarte who had great hopes for Palm's reinvention. As he wrote in a 2009 blog post: "When I started in this field, the Palm V was the unquestioned leader in mobile devices. To this day I believe it represents one of the best consumer electronic products ever created. I always aspired to match Palm in simplicity, usability and design--so now that I'm here, I feel like a kid who's just been handed the keys to Daddy's convertible."
Looks like you've got the keys to the Segway now, my friend.
Google has not yet responded to request for comment. I will update here when it does.