The tablet wars are intensifying, with Motorola announcing Wednesday that a Wi-Fi-only edition of its Xoom will be available later this month. The suggested retail price for the 32GB unit will be $599, the same as the iPad 2's Wi-Fi-only 32GB version.
The Wi-Fi edition will be available at major retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Sam's Clubs, Staples and Walmart. The tablet is also being sold to commercial IT channels and regional retailers through Synnex, and to regional carriers through Brightpoint.
The Xoom is the first tablet to run on Android 3.0, Honeycomb, the version of Google's open-source operating system designed specifically for tablets. Motorola is emphasizing such innovations in Honeycomb as widgets, true multitasking, browsing, notifications and customization.
It's also pointing to the Xoom's hardware -- a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, 1GB of RAM, a two-megapixel camera in front and a five-megapixel one in the back, HDMI out, a one-gigahertz dual-core processor -- and a built-in barometer for measuring atmospheric pressure, in case you want to predict your own weather. Also, in clear distinction from the iPad, the Xoom supports Adobe Flash Player 10.2 beta.
The Wi-Fi with 3G Xoom was released Feb. 24 at a retail price of $799, with $599 as the carrier-subsidized price with a contract, and an option for a free upgrade to the Verizon Wireless Long Term Evolution 4G network. One advantage of the Wi-Fi-only Xoom, of course, is that no carrier contract is required to get the tablet for $599.
'A Largely Unfinished Product'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that, while Honeycomb could become a major asset for the Xoom, at the moment "a lot of the software and hardware infrastructure to support it is not yet in place."
He described the tablet as "fantastic and extremely responsive, with a nice interface," but said there is still limited software to reliably take advantage of Honeycomb. He added that he expects the support for Honeycomb to "get a lot better, but right now it's still a largely unfinished product."
Greengart noted that the entry level for "the market leader," the iPad, is $499, and that it "is quite clear that a large percentage of the market" is choosing that lower-priced model. While the new Wi-Fi-only Xoom is priced at the same level as the comparable iPad, he noted, Motorola's entry level at $599 is substantially higher than the iPad's.
Greengart said this means a first-time customer looking for a tablet might well consider getting the market leader at a lower entry price than an alternative such as the Xoom. Some observers have suggested that Motorola needs a price point closer to $399 for an entry-level tablet to capture market share from Apple.
The Xoom was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Motorola stoked anticipation of its tablet with a preshow, highly engaging video that put its product literally on a pedestal under wraps as the latest evolution in a museum exhibition of the greatest tablets in history, starting with the Ten Commandments.
Posted: 2011-03-16 @ 12:53pm PT
I just wonder what serious steps are being made to introduce these theories and prices to a struggling UK market. Mis-informed blogs and fantastical ideas overwhelm forums that cannot concentrate on any one particular device. Would be excellent to see some companies have a bit of foresight to offer exact release dates and pricing for all countries expected to buy many units.