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More departures at beleaguered Palm

The designer of the Palm Pre has resigned, leaving the mobile hardware developer with more gaps on its senior management team

Sunnyvale-headquartered Palm has seen a slew of high-profile exits since its acquisition by HP.
Sunnyvale-headquartered Palm has seen a slew of high-profile exits since its acquisition by HP.

HP's plans to implement a new range of products based on technology from its recent acquisition of mobile specialist Palm could be in disarray, as reports of a senior exec exodus emerge.

According to blog TechCrunch, Peter Skillman, vice president of design at the firm and designer of its much-toured Pre smartphone has resigned. He joins a slew of recent defectors including Michael Abbot, SVP of application software and services who left in May for a post at social networking site Twitter, and Mike Bell, SVP of product development, who joined Intel in July. Matias Duarte, designer of its WebOS operating system, also departed in May for Google, while the designer of its notification system, Rich Gerringer returned to his former employer, Apple in June.

The departures follow the acquisition of Palm - which was well known for its iconic early PDA designs such as the Palm Pilot - by IT giant HP in April for a reported $1.2 billion. Duarte, Gerringer, Abbot, Bell, and Skillman were credited with the innovative design of the Palm Pre, and with their exit, signals an uncertain future for Palm, which counts CEO Jon Rubinstein as one of the few remaining members of the management team.

Parent HP itself is battling its own senior exec woes - vaunted CEO Mark Hurd has stepped down amidst a cloud of controversy over claims of sexual harassment by a former contractor, leaving CFO Cathie Lesjak in charge.

The Palm Pre was unveiled in Las Vegas in late 2009 to positive acclaim from the market but struggled to make headway against the then-current Apple 3GS. According to a report from analysts Comscore, Palm has secured just 4.8% of the global smartphone market, well behind rival products from Google and Microsoft.