Nokia Signs Up Former HP WebOS Chief

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Nokia has poached Richard Kerris from HP’s webOS unit, and made him head of developer relations

Nokia’s fightback continues after the Finnish handset giant named Richard Kerris as its new global head of developer relations

Kerris formerly held the same position in HP’s webOS unit.

The announcement was made at Nokia World 2011 in London, by Marco Argenti, senior vice president of developer experience and marketplace at Nokia. Argenti announced Ferris as the new vice president and global head of developer relations effective immediately.

Great Addition

Kerris will report directly to Argenti, who called him a great addition to the Nokia team and literally welcomed Kerris onstage with open arms and embraced him like family. Argenti also Tweeted:

“Great people are what makes the difference, always. I’m excited to welcome Richard Kerris in my team as Global Head of Developer Relations.”

Kerris spent about nine months at HP. On 24 October reports surfaced that Kerris was leaving HP to “pursue an opportunity outside the company. Officially, HP issued a statement that said:

“Richard Kerris, vice president, Worldwide Developer Relations for webOS, has decided to leave HP to pursue an opportunity outside of the company, effective immediately. We are grateful for his service and contributions he has made to HP and the webOS community”

Dion Almaer, vice president of mobile architecture at Walmart.com, whom eWEEK contacted for comment about Kerris as the news broke on 27 October, said he wished Kerris well. Almaer is in a unique position to know what Kerris is up against, as he preceded Kerris in the webOS role, having essentially co-founded it with his business partner, Ben Galbraith.

Talent Swap

Like so many companies in the tech world, Nokia and HP/Palm have a history of swapping key employees. For instance, Kerris joins Peter Skillman as former HP/Palm employees now at Nokia.

Skillman, known as a design guru, was vice president of design at Palm. At Nokia he was the driving force behind the N9 device, considered among the most elegant of Nokia’s devices ever to reach the market. And also last year, Ari Jaaksi, former head of engineering for Nokia’s MeeGo platform, left Nokia to join Palm to work on webOS.

Some observers and commenters to various posts have openly wondered what experience in webOS has to do with Windows Phone. Perhaps Nokia sees experience with one platform as valuable for another. In any event, Kerris has an impressive track record.

As stated, Kerris was previously vice president of worldwide developer relations for webOS at HP, which followed roles at Lucasfilm, where he was CTO, and at Apple, where he was a senior director of developer relations.

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