Palm UI VP defects to Google

Matias Duarte, who has also worked at Danger and Helio, will become user experience director for Android

Matias Duarte, formerly vice president of human interface and user experience at Palm, has left to take a job with Google, marking one of the first defections since Hewlett-Packard announced plans to buy the struggling phone maker.

Duarte will serve as user experience director for Android, Google said.

Prior to Palm, Duarte worked for Helio, a mobile virtual network operator, and before that Danger. Danger's co-founder, Andy Rubin, now heads development of Android for Google.

While Palm's WebOS phones have struggled to gain a foothold in the competitive smartphone market, the UI has been widely praised.

In April, HP announced plans to acquire Palm for US$1.2 billion. HP said it planned to invest heavily in product development and marketing initiatives and that it would use WebOS to power tablet computers.

At the time of the acquisition, HP praised the WebOS UI, saying that it "delivers incredible experience for true multitasking," according to Todd Bradley, vice president of HP's personal systems group. The company also said it was excited to acquire Palm's team of engineering talent with strong leaders.

Palm's CEO, Jon Rubinstein, agreed to stay on with HP, but at the time of the acquisition announcement HP declined to say if he'd signed an agreement to stay for a particular period of time.

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