Is the XOOM a telltale sign for Android tablets to come?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| April 6, 2011

Predictions from one analyst firm claims that Android tablets will control the $70 billion tablet market by 2014. Personally, I don't believe it will take that long for Android tablets to take charge, based on the sheer quantity of devices manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon. But if the Motorola XOOM is a tell tale for what to expect from the tablet space, it might just take until 2014 or longer.

Assuming the Deutsche Bank's approximations are accurate, Motorola Mobility has only sold a mere 100,000 XOOM tablets since its launch on February 24th. Comparing these numbers to what we're used to seeing with smartphones and the common, household iPad, they're plain pitiful.

However, we have to consider the fact that the tablet market is still in its infancy. It's hardly a year old and the technology is far from being proven. People aren't going to rush out to buy a product they don't feel they need. Apple has recognized this and made millions of people feel like their iPad is an essential tool in day to day life. Regardless, when push comes to shove, all tablets are still luxury items, iPad included.

I spent two weeks with a XOOM and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite devices to date. Neither hardware nor software are to blame for the XOOM's lackluster sales. The problem lies with Motorola's poor marketing, shipping the device before it was truly ready, and a price tag that's no joking matter. This was also the case with the nearly forgotten Samsung Galaxy Tab that launched in November of last year.

The Motorola XOOM commercials that have been aired tend to take stabs at the competition rather than detailing the benefits of the device itself. Don't get me wrong, the few ads I have seen are great ads for a well-known product. But if you're trying to establish credibility for an unproven market and encourage people to buy an $800 product that they don't need, you should probably consider listing some benefits of the product over cutting down the competition that is outselling you by millions of units.

To be frank, the XOOM was rushed to shelves. While Honeycomb is fairly polished and the performance of the XOOM is impressive, the “4G device” comes out of the box without a 4G radio installed. It also has a microSD card slot that doesn't work. The card slot will be activated in a future software update, but it's tough to activate a radio that doesn't exist. In order to use 4G on your XOOM, you will have to send it off for a week to have Motorola physically install the radio for you. This is a PR nightmare waiting to happen and I foresee thousands of enraged customers as a result. It's highly probable that potential buyers decided not to get a XOOM based on this alone.

Motorola also priced their first Android tablet at a whopping $800. While this is slightly cheaper than the most expensive model of the iPad, this was the only version of the XOOM available at launch. The iPad was initially released in a plethora of flavors (i.e.: color, capacity, Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi and 3G) that varied in price, ensuring there was a model for everyone. On March 27th, just one month later, the $600 Wi-Fi only version released and went by nearly unnoticed. I'm confident the sales would have been much more appealing had the Wi-Fi only model and 3G/4G models released together.

Many customers decided to hold off on a XOOM to see what the competition has to offer. With at least ten manufacturers releasing high-end tablets in the coming months, it's impossible to judge Android's future in the tablet realm based off of one or two botched launches. Let's just hope that other manufacturers have learned from Motorola and Samsung's mishaps and bring their tablets to shelves ready to hit the ground running, priced appropriately, and with all models available at launch.

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