Why the Motorola Xoom is Android’s Best Chance to Attack the iPad

The Motorola Xoom was greeted with many oohs and aahs at CES 2011, as it was the first Android tablet to run Honeycomb, which is Android 3.0- designed with the tablet in mind. While many Android tablets were announced at CES, the Motorola Xoom has the most going for it, and the most backing to give Apple a real competitor.

The first mainstream Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, was heavily pushed by Samsung through advertising and multiple carrier support ( available on all major US carriers), but lacked developer and software support. The tablet ran Android 2.2, designed for cell phones, on a 7 inch device. The Android operating system was already fragmented with screen sizes between 3.5 inch and 5 inch, but Samsung pushed it too far running a cell-phone operating system on a 7 inch tablet. Many apps crashed, had horrible graphics or did not work altogether and required app developers to modify their software for one more device- not a new software release that would utilize all new features, but access for one device.

The home screen of the Xoom highlights the advantages of the Android operating system, having what's important to you upfront, not hidden in an app

The Motorola Xoom has a chance to steal a larger piece of pie from Apple. Running a tablet-optimized operating system, developers will have incentive to build apps, as upcoming tablets will be also run Honeycomb. Like any Android device, users have their important information upfront in a widget, unlike in the Apple ecosystem where all information is hidden in apps which the user must consciously access. The Xoom also has the benefit of being a joint project between Google and Motorola, as Honeycomb had not been officially announced to the public before the arrival of the Xoom. A direct partnership with Google, combined with Motorola’s history and reputation for keeping their products updated (The original Motorola Droid, two years old, received Android 2.2 in early-September) suggests that the Xoom will be supported for a few years, and not dropped and left in the cold like some of Samsung’s products. This puts Motorola on the same ground as Apple, which designs the software and the hardware, who supported the iPhone 3G from late 2008 to the end of 2010. Android software moves fast, and Xoom users should feel confident that they wont be left behind by Motorola.

As the first Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom has a responsibility to show off the full power of Honeycomb. In this respect Motorola is also on the same ground as Apple. The hardware is designed to fully take advantage of the software- even a barometer, which measures pressure in the atmosphere, is installed.

While the Xoom is Android’s best bet, its success will depend on the number of apps optimized for Honeycomb tablets, and adoption and promotion by its customers. Motorola does not have the same level of brand recognition as Apple, and Android does not capitalize enough on the Google brand name. Compared to the iPad (version 1 or 2), the Xoom has a much higher price tag that might turn away customers who compare it to the iPad without looking closer.

The Xoom won’t be an “iPad killer”, such a thing does not exist, but Xoom’s objective is to grasp a portion of market share from Apple, who at time of writing holds more than 80% of the market.

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