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Yeah, provocative headline, but we've lamented in that past that the Palm Pre was too iPhone-like for us -- based on the involvement of transplanted Apple brain trust -- and how we'd have loved to have seen a truly next generation Palm device. Could it be, however, that the former have saved us from being tragically wrong about the latter?

We'd heard before how the previous Apple iPod-lead Jon Rubinstein argued and lost with Steve Jobs over a hardware keyboard on the iPhone (much as Tony Fadell, "father of the iPod" and another former Apple exec, argued and lost over using Linux rather than OS X on the iPhone). Flash forward and Rubenstein is recruited by new Palm backers, Elevation Partners, to help oversee the development of Palm's next generation handset -- and potential company-saving gadget -- the Palm Pre. (And Rubinstein brought over iPhone engineers and Apple PR people to help).

So what's new? According to Fortune (via PreCentral.net) it turns out Rubenstein first had to save the Palm Pre from Palm:

Rubinstein started, in his words, "hanging out" with Palm people in late June. He didn't like what he saw. The hardware for the Pre needed to be scrapped and rebooted. For one thing, prototypes were using old "resistive" touchscreen technology that responds to a user physically pushing the screen, not the newer "capacitive" technology manipulated by the electricity in the user's body. Rubinstein tossed out the old phone's hardware and built a new one in about 15 months. "We were basically running a marathon and doing a heart transplant in the middle of it," says Rubinstein.

We've joked before that the device we all know and love is Steve Jobs' vision of the iPhone, and that the Palm Pre is Jon Rubenstein's vision of the iPhone, and guess what? We might have been exactly right.

(And does that mean if Rubenstein and Fadell had won their arguments, maybe the iPhone would have been the Palm Pre fully two years ago? We're ecstatic they didn't and it wasn't because now we get to have both visionary products to choose from -- and to compete for our choice.)

Only question is, where can we see that Palm-like Pre prototype?

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