These are my thoughts on all of the news regarding the Motorola XOOM, more specifically the recent news regarding price.
The Motorola XOOM made a huge splash at CES a few weeks ago, immediately creating a buzz across the internet. It even took home Best in Show. Everything was looking up and people (including myself) were very excited. The hardware specs look great, and so does the software (Android 3.0 Honeycomb.) Finally, something that will be able to compete with the tablet-market-hogging iPad and continue Android's rise to the top of the game, all while bringing in a few dollars to Motorola.
But then the news hit that the XOOM would cost $800 (or is it $700?) without a contract. The internet went nuts, and one poll from droid-life showed that 90% (of over 8,000) said it was too expensive. That doesn't bode to well for Moto's sales, does it? In fact, their Q4 earnings report for 2010 has just hit the net, and even they admit it will be a rocky road ahead. But it doesn't have to be that way, Moto! The XOOM could boost your earnings if you had played your cards a little more like Apple did.
On the surface, the $700-$800 price might look steep, but it's actually not too far off when being compared to an iPad of the same caliber. The specs justify the price, and if I could afford it, I would be first in line to get it on launch day. Unfortunately, that isn't the case for me (and apparently most of the people who were waiting for the XOOM.) Maybe a few years ago when the economy didn't suck so bad, but not today. So, it's not necessarily the price of the XOOM that will cause it to fail in the end.
The mistake Motorola is making is, as I mentioned earlier, not playing the game like Apple did. Apple not only set a bar with specs, durability, cosmetic appeal and general usability of the iPad, but also introduced the iPad in a way that made it accessible to just about everyone. Making the tablet available in tiered models wasn't only smart, but it was a pro-consumer move that went against what people thought Apple was about (that being, high priced gadgets reserved for the elite fanboy). There have been polls and statistics that show that most people prefer the lower priced models (WiFi only and 16GB 3G version). So, how can Motorola think that releasing the XOOM with only one option is a smart idea? The iPad already rules the tablet world, and the XOOM is the first chance anyone has to seriously challenge the iPad's throne. That being said, Moto should have made plans to release the XOOM in some way that would make it available to everyone. Many people on the internet are hoping for a WiFi only model, which would be cheaper due to the lack of a 3G radio. Even selling the XOOM with 16GB as opposed to 32GB would help, but we only have one choice. The expensive version. That is unless you want to be tied to a 2 year contract and buy it subsidized, but that really doesn't save the buyer any money. In fact, it will cost more (around $1,200-$1,300 total over 2 years), and no one in their right mind wants to have a second contract on top of the money they're already locked into for a smartphone data plan. It's been said that Verizon doesn't require a contract for mobile devices other than phones, and the XOOM will only stand a chance being successful in subsidy if this is true. That's what Apple did with the iPad, and it seems to work very well.
I really hope we hear some good news before launch for the sake of the Android tablets in general, but also for Moto's sake. I like the company and have owned several of their products over the years (the original Droid is a fantastic piece of technology) and have no doubt that the XOOM is going to be a nice product. I may disagree with locked bootloaders and Motoblur, but that aside, Motorola does make some nice stuff. Unfortunately, if the XOOM fails as it seems set up to be, then the market will belong to Apple and their iPad2 (which arrives just a month after the XOOM), as well as a boatload of cheaper Honeycomb tablets soon to arrive in Q2. At this point it looks as if most of the people who were psyched up about the XOOM are now planning on waiting for a cheaper alternative, or save up a little more than what the XOOM will cost and buy a Macbook or a nice desktop. Motorola still has a chance to even the playing field with Apple if the act quickly and make plans for an entry level XOOM tablet that will do well in an economic slump. Let's hope we see such a device at launch in Feb/early March.