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HP hires former Apple exec to pitch webOS to developers

HP has hired Richard Kerris, Apple's former Senior Director of Worldwide Developer Relations, to help attract developers to the webOS platform as it attempts to challenge Apple in the smartphone and tablet markets.

HP on Wednesday unveiled several new webOS products, including the TouchPad tablet, as part of its "double down" on the platform. HP executives have said that webOS was the company's primary reason for acquiring Palm in April 2010.

"Today we're embarking on a new era of webOS with the goal of linking a wide family of HP products through the best mobile experience available," said Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president and general manager for the Palm Global Business Unit at HP.

During Wednesday's event, Rubinstein revealed that HP plans to bring webOS to Windows PCs to increase the environment's installed base.

TechCrunch reports that HP announced its hiring of Apple veteran Richard Kerris during a developer gathering after the event. Kerris, who previously served as Senior Director for Apple's Worldwide Developer Relations group, will join HP in a similar role as VP of Worldwide Developer Relations. In between working at Apple and now HP, Kerris served as the CTO of Lucasfilm for 3 years.

Kerris "held numerous positions at Apple, from managing special projects for the applications division to managing the company's technical marketing strategies for professional applications" from 2001 to 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Given that Kerris' role at Apple was to convince developers for other platforms to build their apps for OS X and assist them in the process, HP appears to have selected him in hopes of bolstering developer interest in webOS. Kerris has his work cutout for him, as webOS is the underdog in the growing mobile space.

A recent comScore report revealed that Palm lost 0.5 percent market share from the September 2010 quarter through the end of the year, leaving it with just 3.7 percent of US smartphone subscribers.