Tag Archives | Motorola Xoom

Motorola Xoom’s 4G Upgrade Shows Up Late With No Apologies

Verizon Wireless’ 4G upgrade for the Motorola Xoom tablet was supposed to arrive during the second quarter of this year. It will finally be available Thursday, two days before the fourth quarter begins.

The upgrade process from 3G to 4G is inconvenient. Xoom owners must ship their tablets away for six business days, and are encouraged to back up any personal information on the device before shipping.

But buyers knew about the hassle going in. What they didn’t know was that Verizon Wireless and Motorola wouldn’t be good for their word. First, the upgrade date slipped to the late summer, and then September, with neither company saying it was sorry for the wait. And then Motorola and Verizon have the gall to put out a cheery press release that acts as if the delay never happened.

I agree with Computerworld’s JR Raphael, who wrote on Twitter that Xoom owners deserve some free credit, a free accessory, or at the very least, an apology. But I’m not surprised that Xoom owners are getting nothing. This is, as Harry put it, the era of beta hardware. Gadget makers have no qualms about selling unfinished products with vague promises of eventual fixes. If you get fooled into buying a half-baked Android tablet, well, shame on you.

(UPDATE: The Xoom 4G upgrade page says users who upgrade now can get a free dock–a $35 value–“while supplies last.” The offer wasn’t mentioned in the press release or on the upgrade page until it went live on Thursday, but it does take some of the sting out, provided there are enough docks to go around. Thanks to commenter Steve Landsberg for pointing it out.)


The Era of Beta Hardware

My TIME.com Technologizer column this week is a hands-on look at RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Like other reviewers, I was startled by the lack of full-blown e-mail, disappointed by Flash Player’s quirkiness, and bedeviled by bugs. All of which led me to what seems to be a near-universal conclusion among PlayBook reviewers: you probably don’t want to buy this thing yet.

Still, there’s much that remains appealing about the PlayBook. The hardware is nice and the WebOS-like interface is fun. With a serious software update or three–and more apps–today’s disappointing PlayBook could be the powerful, professional-grade tablet that RIM has been bragging about for months. It’s just that the company essentially released an unfinished product, presumably because it was so very anxious to get into the tablet market before other iPad alternatives had a chance to get an edge.

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Motorola Xoom Sales “Slow,” “Disappointing,” Say Analysts

Motorola’s Xoom tablet doesn’t lack for hype. Actual sales, however, may be another matter. At least two analysts have come out in the past two days and cited “poor” Xoom sales in adjusting their forecasts for Motorola revenue in the current quarter.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Sue was the first on Friday, and said higher competition would put a strain on the company. He cut his Xoom shipments forecast by 25% to 300,000 units in the current quarter and called sales “slow.” This was followed by Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette who called Xoom sales (and of Motorola’s Atrix 4G smartphone) “disappointing.”

What’s the issue here? I’m going to take an educated guess and say its pricing pressures. In the case of the Xoom, it is still priced well above the market-leading iPad. For such a premium, Motorola needs to prove its worth to the consumer and I don’t think it has done that.

As Faucette notes, the Atrix’s issues may actually result from other smartphones on AT&T being priced well below the device, such as the $49 iPhone 3GS. The Atrix on the other hand retails for $199.99. While it’s the same price as the iPhone 4, if people are looking for a cheaper solution on the carrier with a decent feature set, it’s certainly there.

If anything’s obvious from this, it’s that price is king. Will this lead Motorola to reconsider its strategy? I guess we’ll find out.


The Xoom Gets Flash. But Don’t Get Too Excited

When Motorola’s Xoom hit Verizon stores last month, it was missing some of the features that promised to make it the iPad’s first formidable rival–including its much-touted support for Adobe’s Flash Player. That got fixed today when Adobe released Flash Player 10.2 for Android, a version which supports phones and tablets running versions of Android dating back to last year’s 2.2 Froyo.

I installed the new Flash on the Xoom and started trolling the Web for Flash content to try. My experience was mixed.  Adobe doesn’t claim that this is a finished piece of software: The Honeycomb version of Flash Player is billed as a beta, and according to Engadget’s Sean Hollister, it doesn’t yet support hardware acceleration. (Apparently, the First Law of Mobile Flash–the version you want is always not quite here yet–still holds.)

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Xoom Looks Headed to Sam’s Club for $539

If Apple has one thing over its Android competitors, it’s definitely (and surprisingly) the iPad’s low starting price. Well, leave it to a wholesaler like Sam’s Club to come to the rescue. According to some information obtained by Android blog Droid Life, the retailer appears set to start selling a Wi-Fi only model of the Motorola Xoom at a price of $539.

This would be $60 less than the target price Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha alluded to about two weeks ago–although still $40 more expensive than the cheapest iPad–and seems to confirm the company has plans to bring it to the US, which was also a question. Obviously, you have to pay for membership to Sam’s in order to buy the item — so the deal is not necessarily open to everybody.

The report doesn’t mention a release date, but does note that a Wi-Fi version is headed for the European market in April.

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Xoom, Xoom, Xoom: A Q&A on the First Android 3.0 Honeycomb Tablet

Motorola’s Xoom goes on sale at Verizon stores tomorrow. I wrote a formal review of it for TIME.com, but there’s a lot to say. So here’s a longer look. You don’t mind if I do it in FAQ form, do you?

I don’t want to read 2,000 words about the Xoom. Is there any way I can convince you to give me the bottom line right now?

For you, anything. Overall, I like it quite a bit–it’s the first iPad rival from a big company that deserves to be taken seriously, period. (Samsung’s Galaxy Tab has its charms, but tablets running a version of Android prior to 3.0 Honeycomb are pseudotablets as far as I’m concerned.)

But Motorola is shipping a product that’s not yet quite all it’s going to be: The 4G capability is coming along via a free upgrade, Flash is a few weeks away, and the MicroSD card slot doesn’t yet work. And I found Honeycomb a touch on the quirky, apparently buggy side. With Apple announcing the new iPad in a week and the BlackBerry PlayBook supposedly nearly here, I’d wait a bit longer before buying any tablet–unless you’re comfortable with the concept of buying what’s essentially a Xoom .9 when you really want a Xoom 1.1.

Isn’t the real question “Would you buy this instead of an iPad?”

I guess so, but given that a new iPad is coming along next week and numerous other tablets will arrive soon thereafter, it’s a question with a short shelf life. Like I say, the Xoom as it’s shipping is cool but slightly incomplete. But once it does 4G, that capability alone could sway some folks to buy it instead of an iPad–assuming that the next iPad doesn’t do 4G.

Here’s the real question, which is unanswerable at the moment: “Would you buy the iPad 2 we don’t know enough about yet or the Xoom once it’s more complete or the BlackBerry PlayBook or the HP TouchPad or some underdog tablet?” Unless I was in a tearing hurry, I’d keep my money in my pocket and wait until the market settles down at least a tad.

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Mobile Flash: Always Exciting, Always Not Quite Here Yet

Motorola’s Xoom tablet–the first one to run Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb–goes on sale on Thursday.  It packs more features than any other tablet from a major company to date. But for the moment, one of them apparently won’t be support for Flash. As Engadget is reporting, Verizon’s Xoom site says that the gizmo is “fully Flash-enabled,” but then it says that Flash is “expected spring 2011.”

(Why the gap between Xoom’s debut and the debut of Flash on the Xoom? I don’t know the specifics, but I assume it’s because Motorola has yet to, well, fully enable it for Flash.)

I got a hint that Flash for Honeycomb was still a work in progress back on February 2nd, when I attended Google’s Honeycomb event and saw a demo of a third-party app that requires Flash–but which was presented on a Xoom that didn’t have Flash installed, rendering the demo meaningless.

Spring 2011 starts on March 20th, so it’s possible that the wait for Flash on the Xoom will be brief. But the fact that the tablet is shipping without Flash is entirely in keeping with the history of Flash on mobile devices to date. Hardware makers keep arguing that Flash is exciting and essential–and they raise the issue of its absence on Apple devices, either explicitly or by implication.

Here, for instance, is Motorola using Flash as a selling point back at CES in January:

Adobe hasn’t been shy about promoting Flash for mobile gadgets before it was ready, either: At the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, it showed off versions of Flash Player for BlackBerry, Web OS, and Windows Mobile that aren’t still yet available on any devices. And I’m not talking about the Mobile World Congress held last week–I’m referring to the 2010 edition of the show.

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Dear Tablet Industry: The Opportunity to Beat the iPad on Price is Still Wide Open

That leaked Best Buy ad spoke the truth: The Verizon 3G/4G version of Motorola’s upcoming Xoom tablet is an $800 product (or, if you want to be precise, a $799 one). Motorola says a Wi-Fi-only one will go for around $600.

With both versions, an analysis of the specs you get for the money you plunk down makes the prices look…well, not nutso: The Xoom is a fancier piece of hardware than the iPad in multiple respects. But the fact remains that tablet shoppers will get to choose between an iPad that starts at $499 and has an extremely deep selection of apps and content and a Xoom that starts at $100 more and is just getting started on the apps/content front. In other words, it’s Apple that appeals to price-conscious folks. That’s an utter reversal of what seemed to be an eternal verity of tech: Apple makes high-end products but doesn’t attempt to appeal to bargain hunters.

I know there are such things as low-cost Android tablets; Archos is probably the best-known maker of them.  So far, though, most of the great big companies that are taking on the iPad don’t seem to be interested in competing for the business of the teeming masses of folks for whom even $499 may sound like a stretch. The one exception: RIM, which will apparently start the PlayBook at $499. (The PlayBook has a 7″ display versus the iPad’s 9.7-incher, but otherwise looks like it’ll be a beefy piece of hardware for the price.)

When the iPad was announced more than a year ago with its $499 pricetag, I assumed we’d shortly see iPad-esque devices from other major manufacturers that undercut it by $100 or more. Hasn’t happened yet; still seems like a big opportunity to me if it can be done while still eking out a profit. I’m beginning to wonder if the first big-name $399 tablet could end up being…an iPad.


Motorola's Xoom Looks Good, But I'm Not So Sure About the Price. Or the Advertising

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.

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