Apple's former engineering chief Jon Rubinstein is joining Palm as executive chairman of the board.

Rubinstein is Apple's former senior vice president of hardware engineering and former head of its iPod division. He quit Apple in April 2006, and will now lead Palm's product development efforts.

Rubinstein's expertise while at Apple saw the launch of the iMac and the iPod. He will now match his skills up with Palm's founder and existing technical guru Jeff Hawkins, who pioneered both the first handheld and smartphone devices.

The move comes as the company reveals a recapitalization plan that brings Bono and two former leading Apple executives to its board. The deal also attracts $325 million in funds into the company in return for the company selling 25 per cent of its stock to Elevation Partners.

Elevation Partners is led by Apple's former chief financial officer, Fred Anderson, and Roger McNamee. U2 frontman Bono is also one of the firm's partners. Both Anderson and McNamee will join Palm's board of directors following the closing of the transaction, replacing former CEO Eric Benhamou and D. Scott Mercer.

McNamee admits that Palm had been out of sync with developments in the mobile hardware device market. "They'll close that gap relatively soon, then the game will be all about software," he said. "Software is where Palm truly excels."

Palm last week debuted a handheld computer called Foleo, which it calls a smartphone companion device.

The company believes the release of Apple's iPhone will help bring a boost to the smartphone market - and with former Apple executives on board, seems in the catbird seat for leveraging any industry shift, observers say.

China Martens contributed to this report