Motorola Xoom: A Serious iPad Competitor?

Today, the Motorola Xoom tablet was released. Head to head, it may give any tablet, including iPad, a run for the money. But, there’s more to closing the gap on the iPad than great performance.

From early indications, its performance and capability puts the Motorola Xoom in league with the best of tablets. It is the first tablet to use Google’s Android Honeycomb software, which makes it the first android tablet to run on software that isn’t designed for a smart phone. That’s just the beginning, but the iPad shouldn’t be worried, yet.

Motorola Xoom
The Motorola Xoom and its confident price tag.

Making the Run at iPad

The Xoom also has front and rear facing cameras, which puts it only two cameras ahead of the iPad. Yes, the front and rear cameras are a widely accepted rumor of what’s to come with the iPad 2, but we don’t have it in hand just now. Xoom is also easily upgradeable to 4G. Again, a feature that the iPad doesn’t have, nor do we know that it will in the next incarnation.

I don’t yet know the resolution, but the Xoom has a great looking display and it has all the ease of use of the iPad. So, where’s the separation and in what direction?

More than What You Hold in Your Hands

Several years ago, Gateway Computers opened stores across the U.S. It seemed like a good idea. After all, for a short time, Gateway appeared to be the darling of the tech world. Now, well, is Gateway still alive? So, when Apple started opening their stores, I thought it may have been a mistake. But, what do I know?

It now seems that the Apple customer support system, which, thanks in no small part to the increasing number of Apple Stores, is light years ahead of any other tablet-making company. Think about it, who would you call with Xoom problems? Would you go to Verizon? Same thing with Sony or any other Apple competitor. I’m fortunate to live within two hours of two Apple Stores and I feel pretty comfortable I’ll be well taken care of in the event of a problem. At least, I can reach out and touch someone.

The price is another consideration. You can have an iPad with WiFi for $499. You can get an iPad with WiFi and 3G for less than $150 more, and no long-term contract. The price of the Motorola Xoom is $799. One can be had for $599, but you lock in to a contract to get that price. It makes a difference.

Also, the iPad has somewhere around 60,000 apps from which to choose. I’m not sure what the android tablet app market is up to, but I don’t think it approaches the number Apple selections. Again, it makes a difference.

Bottom Line for the iPad

Holding each of these two competitors in hand, you’d say Apple has been given a run for it’s money. But, to be a true iPad competitor, Motorola, or anyone else, needs to have an improved app market, but more so a competitive price and the support system of Apple. It’s good to see high-quality selections coming online in the tablet world, but Apple still has the only total package.

Source: Reuters, iPad Rival Xoom Hits the Stores.

Image courtesy of Paul Swansen.