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Palm may be close to bringing out a new webOS powered smartphone after an entry by the Sunnyvale smartphone maker was dug up in a certification database.

According to Precentral, the models P102UNA and the P102EWW were discovered in the database of standards group TÜV Rheinland, which had previously given its seal of approval to the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus handsets.

What makes certification significant is that it was issued in August, so whatever Palm is planning may be just around the corner.

Palm has already confirmed it is working on the next major iteration of webOS, version 2.0, which brings a whole host of improvements to the platform, including better integration of core applications, enhanced multitasking, a more robust universal search, full HTML5 support, new plug-ins (which may include Flash) and various performance upgrades.

It would make sense to launch webOS 2.0 with new hardware, with at least a faster CPU to keep up with the likes of iPhone 4 and numerous Android smartphones running on 1GHz processors.

Meanwhile, a Hewlett-Packard executive has confirmed that the rumoured ‘PalmPad’ webOS tablet will be out as early as 2011.

HP, which acquired Palm earlier this year for $1.2 billion, made no secrets of the fact that it wants to bring webOS to non-smartphone product lines.

HP Vice President, Todd Bradley, said in an analysts’ meeting: “We've already announced the expansion of our future product portfolio well beyond smartphones. We'll have a webOS-powered PalmPad that will be set for release early in 2011.”

Candanian smartphone giant Research In Motion recently unveiled its own tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, this week, which runs on a new operating system that bears striking resemblances to the webOS interface.

HP/Palm will need to act fast to ensure BlackBerry does not steal its thunder if and when they do decide to bring out a webOS tablet.

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