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

By  |  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?


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. @humedini Says:

    Agree strongly with your suggestion that the entry price point is too high. It's going to hurt them in terms of mindshare as Apple have the illusion of being cheaper even though as you quite rightly suggest it isn't a fair comparison. Unfortunately (for Motorola) most consumers won't know this … They could have used their ad spot to tell everyone about the strong points of the Xoom, but they wasted their chance by taking a pop at Apple users, good luck Motorola. Think you are going to need it!

  2. nick dafo Says:

    I dont like the screen size to begin with.
    My android tablet is 7 inches and have found it to be much better than larger displays for me.

  3. Fred Says:

    Every time I saw one of those godawful I'm a Mac ads, I had the same reaction – telling me I'm an idiot didn't make me want to buy a Mac. The ads were great for reinforcing Mac users' own inherent smugness, however.

  4. @lenfeldman Says:

    I was shocked by the price of the Xoom (which is actually higher than $799.99, because buyers have to purchase at least one month of Verizon's data service just to enable the tablet's WiFi capabilities.) At $499 for an entry-level WiFi-only model, they would have had a very strong competitor to the iPad.

  5. Rob Says:

    I got my wife an iPad because she’s not tech savvy. There was no challenger at the time. Given the current state of things, I consider the Xoom to be like a Linux box versus the iPad being like a Mac. If things go amiss on a Linux box, one often has to be very tech savvy to sort out the problems. The niceness is an all-too-thin veneer in many areas. The Apple ecosystem is geared towards the likes of my wife; the niceness goes much deeper and broader. The reverse of this is that Linux gives one much greater flexibility, power, and freedom, while the Mac is much more restrictive. Perhaps the Android tablet world will eventually reach a point to be suitably attractive to folks like my wife, but that seems a long way away right now.

  6. Dave Says:

    It would be worth $800 if Android Tablets had the same apps as the iPad, but without apps to run on it, the specs are generally not an issue. By the time apps come out to take advantage of the processing power, it will be 6-12 months old. For early adopters a fair price would be $700 and $500 for a wifi version.

  7. Dave Says:

    It's pretty easy to root the nook and make it into a full Android tablet. Although rumor is that they are adding some protection soon to make this harder (ie It will take 3 weeks to crack).