By Harry McCracken | Monday, February 7, 2011 at 9:23 am
Engadget has uncovered what seems to be a Best Buy ad that lists Motorola’s upcoming Xoom tablet at $799.99. The price doesn’t come as a stunner–it appears to confirm an earlier rumor–but it’s disappointing, at least if you’re rooting for at least one an Android tablet to emerge as a best-selling archrival to the iPad.
Don’t get me wrong–$800 isn’t an absurd price for a device with the Xoom’s specs. It’s got a dual-core CPU, a 10.1″ display at 1280-by-800 resolution, 1GB of RAM, two cameras, and an SD slot, and will get 4G wireless soon after release. All those features make it an upgrade from the current iPad, at least on a purely technical level. If you were contemplating buying the priciest version of the iPad–the $829 model that has 3G wireless and 64GB of RAM, but a slower CPU, a smaller and lower-resolution display, 256MB of RAM, no cameras, and no SD slot–an $800 Xoom is a plausible alternative.
But you don’t need to spend $829 to get an iPad; you can plunk down as little as $499. If the Xoom really will start at $800, it’s tough to see it becoming a breakout hit. Sounds more like it would be the higher-end, pricier alternative to a less technically-advanced Apple product–a reversal of the supposed normal state of affairs.
I’m curious how much Toshiba will charge for its upcoming, unnamed Android tablet: Other than lacking built-in 3G wireless, it looks like it’ll be a lot like the Xoom. Here’s hoping the starting price is a lot closer to $500 than $800. (Then there’s RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, which apparently will match the iPad’s starting pricetag.)
The Xoom’s pricetag isn’t yet official, but the tablet did get its first TV during the Super Bowl yesterday. If you care about the Xoom you’ve already seen it…
In case you weren’t sure who the white-coated zombies were supposed to represent, the e-mail I got from Motorola helps to clarify:
Created by Anomaly New York, the ad entitled “Empower the People” is set in an Orwellian, 1984-esque world where technology – and people – are limited by restrictive platforms. Enter Motorola XOOM – the tablet to create a better world – and a new day with optimism, openness, freedom and empowerment.
Okay, I get it–it’s a knowing reference to the most famous Super Bowl commercial of them all. iPad users are sheep, hypnotized by a device that restricts their freedom rather than increasing it.
I’ve written endlessly and critically about the Apple-imposed limits on the iPhone and iPad, so I don’t think I’m an Apple sheepzombie. Seems to me, though, that “users of our competitor’s products are idiots” isn’t a compelling argument in favor of a company’s own wares. And makers of Android-based products will have a far better case once the quality and quantity of third-party apps in the Android Market improves. (For all of Apple’s restrictions, the richness of the App Store means that its products do more, and do it better, than Android-powered alternatives.)
Come to think of it, how many TV watchers will even be able to deconstruct the Xoom ad? Does it communicate anything meaningful to an audience other than people who already have an emotional problem with Apple products? How many of those people are there, and what percentage are likely to spend $800 on a tablet?
So what do you think of the Xoom’s apparent price? Does the ad make you want to buy one?