Motorola Xoom Sales “Underwhelming?”

Motorola Xoom

Reports are that the Motorola Xoom – the iPad’s first real competitor, and the first Android tablet to run Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” isn’t selling quite as well as people had hoped. Admittedly, there are likely a number of reasons for why this is, but ultimately the success of the Xoom is key to the success of the tablet market in general: if the iPad has a strong competitor, Apple will feel the need to push forward when it comes to improving and innovating in the marketplace. If they feel they can completely define the market direction and the technology consumers buy, they’ll make more modest steps.

Analyst Peter Misek told ZDNet:

Xoom sales have been underwhelming. While marketing has just started we believe MMI will likely have to cut production if it already has not done so. We believe the device has been a bit buggy and did not meet the magic price point of $500. We believe management knows this and is hurrying development and production of lower cost tablets. Importantly we believe management will likely have to make the painful decision to accept little to no margin initially in order to match iPad 2’s wholesale pricing.

Yowch. He even tosses in a ding at the Motorola Atrix later in the report, claiming that the Blackberry Torch – a phone that got a largely tepid response from the tech community and BlackBerry enthusiasts – is selling better than the Motorola Atrix, the highly lauded Android phone that made waves at CES back in January.

So what’s the deal? Well, the Atrix got dinged on confusing pricing and – the real draw, supposedly the laptop dock that Motorola wanted everyone to pick up – being about as expensive as the phone. Add that to the fact that the Atrix is an AT&T exclusive, and you have a great phone that’s essentially DOA.

As for the Motorola Xoom, some people are complaining that the Xoom is buggy, Honeycomb isn’t ready for prime time, and of course, the fact that there’s a ridiculous lack of Honeycomb apps available, so you’re stuck using apps for Froyo if you can get them to work properly.

To me, there have been three nails in the coffin of the Xoom right now – the lack of tablet-based apps, the confusing pricing structure, and the delay of a WiFi only model. The delay of a WiFi only model all but positions the Xoom as something that people would have to go to a wireless carrier to get, and not everyone who may be interested in a tablet want to get into an added contract with their wireless carrier to enjoy. The lack of tablet-based apps has been talked to death. The pricing structure has been its own problem: there are three prices for the WiFi model, three prices for the 3G model, a cost to upgrade to 4G, an activation fee, a fee to pay Verizon Wireless to get a WiFi only model, and so on. Ultimately, when you buy a Xoom, or think about buying a Xoom, you have absolutely no idea what your out of pocket expenses will be.

Still, all of those woes aside, I really like the Xoom – or rather, the idea of the Xoom – since competition is good and the iPad needs some. After all, I’m still convinced that Apple got away with a fairly lackluster update to the original iPad largely to fanfare because there still aren’t solid competitors in the market yet that can stand toe-to-toe with Apple on the software front.

What do you think? Are you pondering a Motorola Xoom, or are you waiting for additional Honeycomb tablets to hit the market? Maybe you’re looking instead for more Honeycomb apps to appear? Let me know in the comments.

[ Motorola Xoom Sales Tepid; Production Cuts Next? ]

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