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The Next Web published an article this morning that we find rather interesting. In it, they claim “a source close to the subject” revealed to them that HP tested webOS on an iPad (presumably an iPad 2) and found that it was able to “run the platform significantly faster than the device for which it was originally developed.”

Twice as fast, on a device with a processor built on the same ARM Cortex-A9 architecture as the Qualcomm APQ8060 in the TouchPad, but clocked 200MHz slower. Twice as fast, on a device with half the RAM of the TouchPad. Normally we’re not one to call “bull” on something, but this just doesn’t smell right. As far as hardware is concerned, the TouchPad should be more powerful. Sure, Apple’s been able to build some great efficiencies into the dual-core 1GHz A5 chip, that’s what you get to do when you make your own silicon. But enough to make a 1GHz chip run an inefficient OS twice as fast as 1.2GHz chip?

We don’t buy it. There are a few reasons why webOS seems so much slower than iOS, but the hardware isn’t one of them. webOS 3.0 still isn’t fully hardware optimized. It doesn’t take full advantage of the Adreno 220 graphics chip in the TouchPad, and despite being all HTML5 and CSS3 friendly, webOS doesn’t support things like CSS transformations. Instead it relies on more processor-intensive methods to make webOS looks slick. The problem with the performance experience of the TouchPad and webOS 3.0 is not the TouchPad’s problem – HP threw the best silicon they could at the problem, and were prepared to throw even more.

correction: The Next Web has clarified to us that they in fact tested Enyo apps on the iPad, which while possibly faster, has significantly better HTML5 implementation with Apple's mobile Safari.

Additionally, The Next Web’s source claims that HP had the TouchPad hardware ready and complete when they announced their plans to acquire Palm back in April 2010 – 16 months ago, and just a three months after Apple unveiled the original iPad. More cold water: there is no possible way HP (1) had an iPad competitor ready three months after the iPad was announced and only a few weeks after it shipped, and (2) had a tablet just sitting around with a slew of chips that hadn’t even completed development yet.

The rest of this report is perfectly believable, as it more-or-less jibes with the information we’ve already seen: HP had plans to release a 7-inch webOS tablet: the TouchPad Go. As one might have surmised from it passing through the FCC, this tablet was already in production and planned for a launch in the near future, but now we don’t know if that’s ever going to happen. According to The Next Web’s source, the TouchPad go was both “a better looking and nicer feeling device,” which HP believed would outsell the original TouchPad.

It’s also safe to assume that HP was already working on the next generation TouchPad, a device that The Next Web reports that the new tablet was going to be lighter with a higher-resolution display and metal case. This TouchPad 2 would have been an attempt to head Apple off at the pass instead of playing catch-up with the last-generation iPad. If this report rings true, it makes us mourn even more HP’s decision to can webOS hardware development. We had little doubt that HP was finally putting all of their development muscle into making good hardware that would really appeal to customers, and the fact that we’re not likely to see it cuts us deeply.