Motorola Xoom Tablet May Launch Feb. 17 for $699
What may possibly be the biggest challenger headed into the tablet market — the Motorola Xoom — was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show this month without a release date or price. Now we may know both.
Information leaked from Best Buy and Verizon (the official carrier for the Motorola Xoom) shed some light on the situation. According to an anonymous source from Best Buy, the Xoom will launch on Feb. 17 for $699.
However, the Verizon leak indicates the Xoom will retail for $799. It may be that Best Buy is offering a discount to boost sales in its stores, but the reason for the discrepancy hasn't been confirmed.
The Best Buy source also said the Xoom will have 32GB of storage.
The big issue isn't necessarily the price discrepancy — it's the price range itself. Selling for $700 or $800 will doom the Xoom either way when going up against the Apple iPad. The iPad starts at $500 and goes up to $829, which is only $30 more than the Verizon price, but still gets you double the storage space.
The Motorola Xoom features the new Android 3.0 Honeycomb interface, which looks to be a solid competitor against iOS, but consumers haven't tried it yet. It will likely be a tough sell against the well established market leader.
Many experts think that it will be nearly impossible for manufacturers to create a tablet that can reach the iPad price range simply because Apple has such a command of the component supply chain. For instance, Apple has so many powerful deals with display makers that rumor has it the other manufacturers can't find many 10-inch touchscreens at iPad-beating prices. Similarly, Apple a single tablet with large market share, whereas Android tablets have many different models, each with a sliver of the sales. In this way, Apple can use the economy of scale to lower prices where other manufacturers cannot.
That brings us back to a potential price for the Xoom, which is in danger of driving all but the most adamant Apple-haters back to the iPad.
There is a ray of hope. It's possible (likely, even) that Verizon will offer a subsidized version that would be much cheaper with a data contract, similar to how the company subsidizes phones on contract. That could drop the price significantly, making it much cheaper than an iPad as long as consumers are willing to pay a monthly data fee.
Also, a Motorola general manager hinted that a Wi-Fi-only Xoom will be available in April, which would likely be cheaper just as the Wi-Fi-only iPad is cheaper than the 3G version.
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