Xoom Sale Concerns Aired Due To Price And New iPad

Despite good reviews, analysts are warning the Xoom will likely be impeded by the arrival of the iPad 2

The public outing of the Motorola Xoom at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show 6 January impressed the crowd thanks to its 3D and other GUI capabilities associated with Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).

It was even dubbed by the press as the Apple iPad “killer,” but then the Xoom saw some bumps as rumours swirled that Motorola and Verizon would price the tablet at $800 (£496).

And then Apple deflated nearly two months of excitement surrounding Motorola’s Xoom tablet 23 February when it announced an iPad-related media event scheduled for 2 March, one day before Verizon launched the Xoom 24 February for $599 (£371) with a two-year deal, or $799 (£495) for an unlocked LTE (Long-Term Evolution) version.

iPad 2 Arrival

The announcement of the event, expected to be the coming out party for the iPad 2, will likely freeze consumers from buying the Xoom. The iPad 2, some believe, may match the Xoom most in functionality and in price.

Analysts agreed the move was coldly calculated to paralyse tablet shoppers from snapping up the Xoom, which is upgradeable to Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said Apple’s freezing the market goes beyond just clever timing. “Apple is the clear market leader, and everyone is waiting to see what the next generation iPads look like and how much they cost,” Greengart said.

Enderle Group founder Rob Enderle said it’s all par for Apple’s calculated course.

“Apple keeps what they are doing quiet so they can react to what their competitors do and out-game them with launch timing and provide launch marketing that showcases competitive strengths,” Enderle told eWEEK. “Apple enters the market knowing more about their competitors than those competitors know about Apple, and as long as this continues, it will be nearly impossible to beat them.”

With 15 million first-generation iPads sold and counting, and an iPad on the way that adds features the first iPad lacked, the best strategy for the army of Android tablet suppliers might be to try to distinguish their offerings from the iPad instead of trying to beat it.

No Flash Support

Enderle, who is testing the Xoom, found his model unfinished and cautioned against the fact that consumers will have to send their current Xoom models back to Motorola for a 4G LTE upgrade later this year. He also noted the lack of Flash support, which is coming next month, and said Netflix won’t work on it at all.

Also, while the Xoom does run many of the existing Android Apps, finding one that really showcases this device has been elusive, he said, echoing a complaint made by Robert Scoble and others.

Google is increasingly reminding me of some of Microsoft’s historic problems in that they don’t seem to finish things and the folks using their platform don’t seem to be able to apply finishing touches before shipping,” Enderle said. “In the end, the iPad will likely come off as far more polished and complete and at a very competitive price.”

Lack Of Polish

Greengart tested his Xoom review unit against the first-gen iPad and found:

“Honeycomb’s multitasking is more efficient than iOS’ task switching, but still significantly lags webOS in utility and polish. Active widgets and Android’s generally high level of customisation favour people willing to invest time to make the device their own. The iPad is considerably simpler to navigate and offers less customisation – it’s Steve Jobs’ tablet, he just lets you use it.”

Greengart cautioned that while the Xoom does appear to be faster launching and switching among applications than the current iPad, it remains to be seen what the iPad 2 will be like, which is the real competition.

That measure of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) was the whole point of Apple’s little pre-announcement earlier this week.