Xoom who? – Another iPad competitor reality check

The latest effort in producing an iPad competitor to gain attention is that of Motorola and its Xoom tablet.  Motorola did a great job with its teaser campaign which featured a video on the history of tablets, which showed the last step as something covered in cloth.  The device seems to have pretty decent hardware specs, but as I have made the point once or twice in the past, the hardware is secondary.  What really maters is the software. It’s time for another competitor’s reality check.

Apart from having a significant disadvantage in available software, essentially zero to over 60,000 iPad-specific apps, the Xoom seems to come saddled with a very hefty price.  Pictures of a leaked Bestbuy flier show the Xoom being offered for $799.99, as well as a warning that to activate wifi functionality a minimum subscription of 1 month of 3G service is required.  Really?!    I can understand that to activate the 3G functionality I may need access to a wifi network in order to connect to the carrier’s website, but the other way around?

Let’s take a step back and consider this.  You are considering the purchase of a tablet in the next couple of months.  Would you really be willing to put down $800 + a minimum $20 in order to be able to use wifi, on a tablet that has not software available for it, instead of waiting a week or two to get an iPad 2 which will have thousands of apps immediately available?

The price tag is bad enough as it puts the Motorola Xoom on the same level as the iPad’s most expensive models, but the requirement of a 3G subscription to enable wifi is right up there with the rumored lack of an email client on RIM’s Playbook, as far as dumb product planning goes.  Could it be that Verizon is putting in small subsidy on the Xoom.  If so, it still has to cost $800?

For a long time Apple has been “the” premium brand for computers and music players.  It will be hard pressed for people to buy into the idea of paying as much or even more on an iPad competitor than they would on the iPad itself, as the device already has the image of a premium quality product.

Perhaps the folks at Motorola believe that since the Xoom will have features the current generation iPad doesn’t have, it can cost a bit more.  If so, they are probably going to be disappointed with how the public reacts, specially after Apple finally introduces the much awaited iPad 2.

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