Jon Rubinstein, Palm at D: Dive Into MobileJon Rubinstein, the former CEO of Palm who now runs the business as a unit of computing giant Hewlett-Packard, has gotten endless ribbing for his claim that he’s never touched an iPhone.

Rubinstein, before joining Palm, was a longtime Apple executive, including a stretch of time when the iPhone was under development.

He defended his comment in an interview with AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher, explaining that he didn’t want to be “tainted” by the user experience of another device in developing Palm’s WebOS devices.

“Did I ever use an iPhone as my personal device? No,” said Rubinstein. “Have I touched one? Yes.”

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Rubinstein went on to explain why he sold Palm to HP.

“We saw a way to get to profitability, but we didn’t see a way to get to scale,” said Rubinstein. “We’d be a small, successful company, but I don’t think that’s long-term sustainable. … HP has tremendous scale.”

Rubinstein wouldn’t comment on the other companies who engaged in acquisition discussions with Palm, referring to them as “Companies A, B, C, D, and E” — a nod to Palm’s SEC filings which had similarly vague references.

HP “needs to be in mobile,” said Rubinstein. “This is something they had to do. HP needs to be in control of its own future.”