Tag Archives | Motorola

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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Who’s Suing Who? A Cheat Sheet to the Mobile Patent Mess

So Apple is suing Samsung, accusing it of imitating Apple products with its Galaxy phones and tablets. The most startling thing about the news may be that the two companies weren’t already in court with each other. Over the past few years, the mobile industry has been so rife with suits and countersuits that if every complainant managed to sue every subject of its ire out of business…well, there’d hardly be a mobile industry left.

I had trouble remembering the precise details of the umpteen cases that have made headlines–as well as some related relationships, such as Microsoft’s licensing agreements with Amazon and HTC–so I decided to document them with a handy-dandy infographic, as much for my own edification as anyone else’s.

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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.


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Is Motorola Building a Web-Based OS? It Already Did.

From the original Droid to the brand-new Atrix, Motorola’s been all about Android over the last year and a half. But if Thomas Claburn’s anonymous source is correct, that may eventually change.

In a report for InformationWeek, Claburn writes that Motorola is building its own web-based operating system as a way to curb its reliance on Google’s Android. Motorola has reportedly hired mobile and web engineers away from Apple and Adobe, but its not clear whether this rumored OS is anywhere near completion.

Except, Motorola already has a web-based OS that’s complete and on the market right now. I’m talking about Webtop, the software that runs on the Motorola Atrix’s laptop dock and set-top dock. If it didn’t have a little window for running the phone’s Android apps, there’d be nothing Google about it.

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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 Gets Sued

When I heard the name “Xoom,” I immediately thought of the international payments company with the same moniker and wondered if there was a connection. There wasn’t. Except that the payments people are now suing the tablet people.


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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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The Atrix 4G: A First Draft of the Future

Over at TIME.com, my new Technologizer column is about Motorola’s Atrix 4G, the potent Android handset on AT&T’s network with a truly unique optional accessory: a laptop dock that depends on the phone for its brains, storage, and Internet connection. It turns the Atrix from a PC-like phone into a notebook. (Another dock, with a wireless keyboard and mouse, turns the Atrix into a desktop computer; I wasn’t able to test it.)

Executive summary of my review: The Atrix is a nifty phone that would be on my short list if I was in the market for an Android handset. As for the laptop dock–well, it’s a nice piece of industrial design that does what it’s supposed to do, but I found the experience a bit glitchy and sluggish. And as Jared wrote, the pricing of the dock makes it less tempting than if it had been a low-cost add-on. It’s $500 unless you agree to a two-year tethering contract and $500 for both the phone and the dock if you do commit, and either way, it only works if you pay $20 a month for tethering on top of your voice and data plan.

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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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Google Android 3.0 and Motorola Xoom: Hands-On, and Awesome

[Here’s another story from our friends at PCWorld.]

Yesterday I got my first hands-on time with the Motorla Xoom tablet, running Android 3.0. And the one-two punch proved a compelling experience. It’s a very different experience than what one gets on today’s Android 2.2 tablets (led by Samsung Galaxy Tab), or on Apple’s iPad.

When the Motorola Xoom was first introduced last month at the CES show in Las Vegas, we only got glimpses of what it could do. Emphasis on the word glimpses: The demos were videos, run by demonstrators who wouldn’t allow hands-on with the device. Today, however, was a completely different experience. After Google’s special event at its headquarters to formally introduce Android 3.0, nearly a dozen developers showed off their apps on the Motorola Xoom, and Google staffers showed off how Honeycomb functions, on the Xoom device.

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