Hewlett-Packard engineers did dare pull unthinkable: They hacked iPad to install webOS only to find out Apple’s hardware runs their mobile operating system more than twice as fast compared to their own TouchPad hardware, a source “close to the subject” told The Next Web. The finding had devastating effects on the team’s morale:
The hardware reportedly stopped the team from innovating beyond certain points because it was slow and imposed constraints, which was highlighted when webOS was loaded on to Apple’s iPad device and found to run the platform significantly faster than the device for which it was originally developed.
It should be pointed out that webOS runs on Qualcomm ARM chips while iPad 2 runs on Samsung silicon. This little nugget is even more revealing:
With a focus on web technologies, webOS could be deployed in the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser as a web-app; this produced similar results, with it running many times faster in the browser than it did on the TouchPad.
In fact, the webOS team wanted HP’s TouchPad and Pre hardware “gone” even before the products hit the marketplace according to TNW. With a hardware refresh a year off and similar issues with the Pre phones, this could have contributed to the decision to shutter the webOS and perhaps license it out to other companies (with better hardware).
In a separate report, TNW details how the news was broken to the webOS group within HP.
Almost everyone at HP found out about the death of the TouchPad and Pre hardware as the public did, in the press release. Only the top executives knew anything about this decision and even senior staff as high as Ari Jaaksi, the Vice President of webOS software, didn’t know about the shuttering of hardware before it happened.
After the press release came out, there was a company wide meeting filled with a bunch of ‘corporate speak’, in which staff were told that they were going to be in limbo for 3-4 weeks.
It’s worth mentioning Hewlett and Packard were Jobs’ heroes growing up. It is also worth recalling that the company saw absolutely no value in Wozniak’s original personal computer design and laughed him off. The Woz then went on to create the original Apple I, he found a company with Steve Jobs that put personal computing on the map, the same market Hewlett-Packard would spectacularly exit 34 years later.
The rest, as they say, is history.