Motorola's Xoom - A Missed Opportunity in Honeycomb Tablets

Bill Loguidice's picture

As I'm sure many of you have seen by now, Motorola's Xoom commercial during the Superbowl attracted quite a bit of attention. For those who don't know, Motorola's Xoom is one of the first tablets to run Google's Android operating system specifically designed for tablets, Honeycomb. Previously, Android tablets were running a version of the operating system optimized for smartphones, not tablets, so the release of a true Honeycomb device is big news in that it's the first real competition for Apple's dominant iPad. Anyway, the commercial is Motorola's send up of Apple's famous 1984 Superbowl ad, which pitted a free thinking Apple against the oppressive dictatorship of IBM. Of course, Apple got the competitor wrong. It wasn't IBM, it was Microsoft, and it almost cost Apple its business if not for an improbable comeback in mobile devices. Ironically, Motorola has similarly misidentified its true competition. It's not Apple, it's other Honeycomb tablets. Just like what happened in smartphones, where Android devices have overwhelmed the market with devices and risen to a position of leadership despite a somewhat fragmented marketplace and at-manufacturer-will upgrade paths, the same scenario is likely to play out in tablets, with Apple carving out a dominant - but not market leading - niche all to itself in the long-term. Priced at $800 with a bizarre requirement for a minimum of one month of 3G data to "unlock" wi-fi, Motorola has seemingly done everything to cripple its otherwise impressive device right out of the gate.

As I've discussed multiple times, I've been practically begging for a Honeycomb tablet to capture my techno-lust before the iPad 2 comes out, but if we're going to see efforts like this in what is already a late bloomer in things like tablet-specific apps and developer support, I'm becoming more and more pessimistic such a scenario will happen. In fact, if these Honeycomb tablets don't start coming out in reasonable quantity and at more attractive price points relatively soon, it will take even longer for them to wrest away Apple's 90% market share in the segment, and we may even be entertaining ideas of not what happened with Apple versus Google in the smartphone market, but what happened with Apple versus everyone else in the portable music player market.

Check out Motorola's Superbowl ad below:

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Nous
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I agree, price has been a

I agree, price has been a problem for Android tablets so far (unless you're willing to compromise significantly on specs but user experience suffers as a result).

However, I have to say, Samsung tried and couldn't get the price of their own tab low enough. Looking at the specification of the XOOM tablet, I would never have expected it to cost anything less than $700. It's just not possible! Which is why I said Sony would've had the exact same problem if they'd tried to do a tablet, with a very high spec and a 10in screen (even if it's not an OLED one) ...

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clok1966
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Waste of money (but so is an

Waste of money (but so is an IPAD :) ) it does sport a larger screen (good thing) and dual cameras (shrug, big woop!). I must admit it looks like marketing sucide to me... You cant release a product that costs more if it doesnt deliver more and from my reading its only Plus is the tweo I mentiond above, and a differnt OS (one cant down play that to much as most TECH heads will love an OPEN OS). Slightly larger screen should be a plus, but the 2 cameras, ehhh... small thing. 32 megs while the comaprabley prices IPAD had 64.... And the month data plan? that is some bizarro stuff there.

The only reall selling point is simply the ANDROID OS, its not locked down tighter than fort Knox. the problem with that is, only some people are going to care. I doubt it will be enough to matter.

Dead before it launched. Its going to be RIP in about 6-12 months for that. NONE of the Android tablets will make it if they dont get in the $299-399 area... plain and simple.

Bill Loguidice
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Pricing
clok1966 wrote:

Dead before it launched. Its going to be RIP in about 6-12 months for that. NONE of the Android tablets will make it if they dont get in the $299-399 area... plain and simple.

I don't agree. I think a rock solid Honeycomb tablet with OPTIONAL data plan sold at $599 would do quite well. I just don't think they can go much higher because the point is to steal momentum from Apple. They need to initially compete on price, since they still don't have the necessary infrastructure to compete 1:1 with iOS as a tablet operating system just yet.

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Nous
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I think any tablet would have

I think any tablet would have to compete on both quality (user experience, specs) and price! There are cheap android tablets that offer substantially inferior experience, and they clearly haven't caught on -- and there are those that are simply too expensive but still not much better than an iPad (or better at all)

I suspect that in order for any given honeycomb tablet to compete on spec alone, which is necessary if honeycomb is to provide as smooth and hassle-free an experience as an ipad does (in the eyes of the casual user of course) then it'll be tough to come out at a lower price point.

They might get there evantually, but judging from the efforts of engineering and manufacturing behemoths (like samsung) it's clearly not as easy as many people assumed it would be. Of course there's no turning back now, they'll just have to keep trying to find a way to achieve that.

Time might not be on their side.

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Nous
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Having said that, there are

Having said that, there are too many unknown factors here (once again).

For instance: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/42912/LG-launches-glasses-free-3D-tablets

LG are to unveil two glasses-less 3D devices at the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona next week – an Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet likely to be known as the G-Slate, and a 3D display smart phone called the LG Optimus.

They are not the first to introduce glasses-less 3D to a mobile device, but are the first to introduce one with such a large touchscreen display, reaching 8.9 inches in the G-Slate.

This is considerably larger than its younger brother, the 3D Optimus, and Nintendo's 3DS.

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Bill Loguidice
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I believe there is some

I believe there is some confusion in regards to the G-Slate. Everything that I've read contradicts that story in that the display will require glasses, most likely passive. In any case, it sounds like an overly expensive proposition at a tablet screen size. I love the moxy, though.

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Nous
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confusing indeed
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I believe there is some confusion in regards to the G-Slate. Everything that I've read contradicts that story in that the display will require glasses, most likely passive. In any case, it sounds like an overly expensive proposition at a tablet screen size. I love the moxy, though.

Yes there is, that's what I thought too; that you'd have to use glasses with it, unlike the LG Optimus 3D which has a glasses free 3d high-res screen and HD 3D video recording capabilities.

We'll find out in exactly one week from now.

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Nous
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G-Slate

Set to launch in the US in March, it will hold a Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, making it one of the most powerful tablets on the market so far. 32GB of onboard storage guarentees plenty of space for music as well as movies to be viewed on its high resolution display. A five megapixel 3D camera is also included which is capable of taking HD and 3D video.

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Nous
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Intel Killing Machines

In your tablet and smartphone device, soon:

http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/07/ti-announces-omap-5-two-high-performa...

We're still waiting for the first OMAP 4 devices to hit the market, but TI's planning ahead -- way ahead -- with its announcement today of the OMAP 5 platform that really kicks things into high gear. The headline feature would be the inclusion of two Cortex-A15 cores, each running at up to 2GHz; Cortex-A15 is the fastest architecture ARM has announced to date, featuring performance roughly 50 percent better than Cortex-A9 at the same clock speed. What's more, there are another two Cortex-M4 processors along for the ride, ready to take over less intensive tasks at much lower power consumption to improve device responsiveness. The platform can support up to four cameras operating at the same time, offer 3D playback, recording, and 2D upsampling to 3D at 1080p resolution, and control up to 8GB of RAM. The chips start sampling to device manufacturers in the second half of this year with retail devices expected in the second half of 2012.

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Bill Loguidice
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I posted this in response to

I posted this in response to the quoted text below on another forum, just to further clarify my positioning...

Quote:

Well the Zoom seems to have doomed itself with it's pricing maybe the Toshiba Tablet will do better. The Specs sound pretty good and it looks pretty cool. Now all we need is a reasonable price. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Precisely my point for those defending Motorola's Xoom. They could have rocked the Android world and attracted plenty of outside attention with a more aggressive price point, as it is they've received a smattering of support and a large amount of derision and disappointment, despite pretty much nailing it on the hardware. That leaves the window open to the countless other Honeycomb tablets that will be coming down the pipeline - like the Toshiba mentioned above - to match enough on feature-set and undercut on price, to take away most, if not all, of any momentum that the Xoom might have built from its first release status. A true missed opportunity on Motorola's part. That's also why I say its competitor is not Apple and the iPad, it's other Honeycomb tablets. That's the irony of their Apple-targeting commercial as that's the same mistake Apple made with their 1984 commercial and targeting IBM instead of Microsoft.

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