Palm has hired an ex- Apple software designer in a bid to compete with the eagerly-awaited iPhone , due for release in the summer.

Since its announcement at MacWorld in January , the iPhone, with its revolutionary interface, has been the cause of much concern for mobile manufacturers as they wonder how to compete.

According to the New York Times , designer Paul Mercer, 39, has joined Palm along with two employees from his independent design firm Iventor.

"He's the best of the best in this space," Paul Saffo, Samsung adviser and Silicon Valley forecaster, told the paper. "The guy has a knack for designing complex systems in ways that are accessible."

Mercer joined Apple in 1987. He was the lead designer of Version 7 of the Macintosh OS, and later created a system which led to the original interface for the iPod. Most recently, Mercer designed Samsung's Z5 digital music player.

Earlier this week, Palm was rumoured to have hired a banker to assess the viability of Palm accepting a take-over bid. Nokia is said to be interested.