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Motorola Xoom – 101 on How to Beat the Apple iPad

{14:18} And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What [is] sweeter than honey? and what [is] stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.

– Judges 14 vs 18, King James Version

If it is one thing I hate to see as a Tech Writer, is when a perfectly great gadget, with perfectly good beautiful styling, with just everything right…appear to be failing. This stands as a contradiction to us Gadget-lovin’ types, as it would seem that everyone was on the same wave length.

I still think the same way about the Sony Walkman. I mean, the sun set on this device on Monday October 25th 2010 when Sony decided to call it quits. But, I oft ponder the example of the iconic VW Beetle or its sister the VW Bulli, both of which did die but were revived with modern stylings.

Couldn’t the same be done for the Sony Walkman, I oft opine? With Cassette Tape made of SSD (Solid State Drives) modified to work with the Sony Walkman’s Read/Write Head. Sure would give those MP3 devices a run for their money!

I personally still think so. So here I go riding around like a true freelancer, with a new cause. This time, I will not wait for the ravages of time to take their toll on the memories and tastes of our seemingly consumerist and trend-drooling Generation Y’s [ages 17 to 28] and disinterested post Impressionism Generation X [ages 28 to 45]. Neither generation is any better than the status obsessed Baby Boomers [ages 46 to?] before them.

This time, folks, I believe a bit of intervention would be good to save a gadget, which like the Sony and their Walkman, has good hardware and is in need of some tutoring to put them on the right track.

I refer of course to the Motorola Xoom, which is now floundering against the record-setting Apple iPad 2 since its launch on Thursday February 10th 2011. This was a day before the Tablet Gods at Apple Inc, (guest starring Apple CEO Steve Jobs!) launched their second Iteration of the Apple iPad 2 on Friday February 11th 2011.

If you had read my prior blog article with a similar title, you would have realized the hoopla surrounding the Motorola Xoom as well as the high expectations base on its Dual-Core accented specs.

Thus since its launch, why has the Google Android 3.0 aka honeycomb-powered Motorola Xoom been so lackluster in sales and mass adoption?

Believe it or not, the answer is obvious: disconnect between Marketing and Engineering within Motorola!!

The Harry Potter of the Tech World, Google Android revived Motorola. With several legendary successes in the Great Smartphone Rush in the Summer of 2010, such as the Motorola Droid and the current Motorola Bionic and Atrix, all powered by Google Android in partnership with No. 2 Carrier Verizon, the obvious could now be echoed from the hilltops.

Motorola was back!

Honey filled the air as the Honeycomb powered Xoom, heavily marketed by Motorola and much heralded by CNET Brooke Crothers as the most likely Apple iPad killer, launched as expected on Thursday February 10th 2011.

So where was the disconnect between Marketing and Engineering?

From the get-go, Motorola did not offer any alternative to a contract version of the much prized Honeycomb-powered Apple iPad alternative, which had been predicted from earlier to stumble on its onerous US$799 price tag on a Tablet with no Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) model alternative.

Motorola: seriously?

Or, as it appears your cue cards are written by Microsoft: Really?

Too bad the Motorola Xoom’s ability to predict the weather could not gauge the drop in pressure in the minds of the cash-strapped and price-hawkish consumers.

Customers with no desire to commit their maxed out credit cards on another two (2) year contract for another one of dad’s “I dreamed of this when I was a kid!” device. Mommy puts it aside in the Best Buy isles, shooing kids along, school clothes and books on her mind.

Best Buy, the bargain electronics mega shopping experience State side, had prices for the Motorola Xoom rumoured to be in the US$ 1,199 range on pre-order – after markups, of course.

Motorola CEO confirmation of the US$799 sticker shocker for the Tablet sans a contract did none to soothe the concerns of the masses, still reeling from the fact that the two (2) year contract was STILL an onerous US$600.

Then Thursday February 10th 2011 came and still no Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) version for Verizon? Worse, a day before then confirmed date of Friday February 11th 2011AD for the Apple iPad 2?

A bit of foreboding and smatterings of “I told you so!” were wafted about the blogsphere and in the Tech World as the Motorola Xoom launched Thursday February 10th 2011 – and spectacularly crashed when the Apple iPad 2 made its debut, the The Day After (TV 1983) Style.

The Apple iPad’s upgrades were breathtakingly basic and simple, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs focusing on conserving battery life in a redesign that speaks volumes as to why their devices are “magical”.

Nothing fancy from the Infinite Loop Design Team based at Cupertino!

Just Dual-Core A5 Processor and two (2) cameras, really, dear reader! Which you would know, had you read my “Easy Skankin’” article (use that as the search term!)!

By comparison, the Motorola Xoom can only manage 9.6 hours of battery life on full usage compare to the Apple iPad 2’s solid 12.6 hours, a stellar encore from its previous performance by the First Generation Apple iPad.

Frantic, Motorola sought to justify its hefty price tag by announcing that not only was it packing 3G, but it had better Retina Display qualities and Dual-Core, which was marketed as being great for gaming. But those words wafted through one ear and out the other, as the laser-focused minds of many a Techie in the blogsphere were quick to admonish Motorola for thinking them blind.

Blind, dear reader, to the fact that Verizon had already launched their super-fast LTE Network and had announced the imminent launch of VoLTE (Voice over LTE), their ultimate union of Voice and Data. So where was the LTE support?

A historical first in its own right deserving of its own article, VoLTE heralds to coming of the much prophesied Nexus of Voice and Data on One Network, the blossoming of the M2M (Machine –to-Machine) Age and the Beginning of the Dead Zone on the Voice Networks.

Motorola thus decided to make one of the most serious blunders thus far in their campaign to beat the Apple iPad: They issued a Tablet recall so that they could enable the LTE chipsets in the Tablets. Returned to you in six (6) days!

Six days? What horrid customer service indeed!

Why could that now have been done via an over-the-air [read downloadable via Wireless Broadband!] update via the 3G Network? A quaint fear of hackers cracking their money-maker Honeycomb Tablet, which is supposed to be more secure? And why so few store outlets and locations?

Tosh and bother indeed! Motorola Xoom in the coffin six foot by six foot!

The freshly minted Motorola Xoom was the ONLY Tablet packing the tasty Honeycomb OS! A disadvantage, to be sure, with no other Tablet yet to be released to compare with, save their competitor the Apple iPad!

Another nail in the coffin for the Motorola Xoom!

Soon Motorola began promising a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) version later in the month of February 2011, with prices of US$599, depending on who is your favorite retailer.

Motorola quickly began to recover their common senses and realized the inaliable truth: Apple had the jump on them from the get-go because of their component hoarding.

Because Apple Inc pre-purchases its components and plans months ahead in time, the equivalent of a year in Silicon Valley Product Development Cycles, it was able to control it prices better.

Not to mention cushion themselves again Acts of God, such as the Triple whammie Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Plant Shutdown in Japan, the source of most of the world components for making the toys we all know and love.

Again, my “Easy Skankin’” article offers the evidence.

Apple’s strong American and International Industry ties, continuing success with its ecosystem of products and cult-like following makes Telecom Providers lips drool the eyes filled with dollar bills. It’s always about the Benjamins with Telecom Providers!

Please take note: “Ecosystems” is now the buzz word in Silicon Valley, as customers like finished products that are not only upgradeable via over-the-air updates but can speak and transfer files seamlessly amongst themselves.

Like an ecosystem in Nature, with each different OS from each Tablet maker being an example of Biodiversity. Not to mention it being a sign of good long term strategic product planning via a product Roadmap!

So the Telecom Providers support Apple’s long term vision by fixing prices, with both AT&T and Verizon offering similar prices for the Apple iPad 2 on BOTH Networks.

Apple vision: to be the No. 1 PC maker, using the Tablet Revolution, riding the efficiency gains of the now gradually building, energy efficient, price-dropping SSD (Solid State Drive) craze!

There may be some hope for the Sony Walkman after all!

Apple’s makes the bulk of its revenue for the Apple Apps store, not necessarily from the sale of its products, as few persons had purchased their Apple iPads on a two (2) year contract.

Thus Motorola learned several lessons that February of 2011:

  1. Makes sure everything is in order from the get-go, as the LTE blunder was unnecessary Tablet Drama. Over-the-air updates should be standard by now!
  2. An Optional Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) version needs to be ready for future versions.
  3. A Computer on a two (2) year contract is not realistic. At least not during a Recession!
  4. Design smartphones, Laptops, PC, NetBooks and Tablets so that they work together seamlessly in their own Ecosystem
  5. Pre-Purchase components in bulk so as to guarantee future prices and thus ride out any future supply chain problems.
  6. Tablets are a long term push, not a short term money-making fad. Thus price to gain marketshare, use Developers to support the Platform and make money from Apps
  7. Make the Tablet available at every retail store. An International-ready Tablet for Launch is an even better concept.

Motorola must now follow these Seven Lessons learnt from their first Tablet outing for their next Tablet Refresh (yes, refresh!!!). Only then can they achieve Enlightment!

Already there are early signs and glimmers of hope. A Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) version of the Motorola Xoom, albeit late and overpriced at US$599 has nonetheless been slated for a Sunday March 27th 2011 release date.

It will be available at all major retail stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, namely Amazon.com, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, select Sam’s Club locations, Staples and Walmart.

Motorola is also going on the road, cross country in America as well as Latin America, Asia and Europe to evangelize about Google Android 3.0 aka Honeycomb to potential (and most likely very enthusiastic and excited!) Developers.

The next six (6) months will be telling, as Motorola hopes for the same quick adoption of their Tablet concept powered by Honeycomb as happened when Android made its debut on the HTC G1 on T-Mobile, now the property of AT&T.

Then, maybe…….maybe…… the next article I write may be praising the Motorola Xoom – for trouncing the Apple iPad 3!!

 

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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