Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

Despite some deficits, Xoom makes impressive showing

by Howard Wolinsky

Xoom, the new tablet computer from Motorola (MMI), had its moment in sun Thursday as it was unveiled for Verizon Wireless (VZ).

Verizon has been making big news as it added the iPhone from (AAPL) earlier this month to a lineup that already included a strong Android phone portfolio from Moto and others as well as Apple’s iPad.

Early reviews of Xoom generally were good, suggesting that despite some downsides, including an $800 price tag, a 25 percent premium over iPad, Xoom is the first tab clone that could go toe-to-toe with the market-dominating iPad.

Self-proclaimed iPad freak Robert Scoble blogged at Scobelizer: “For the past few days I’ve had a Motorola Xoom. I accepted a loaner because I wanted to prove that it would suck next to an iPad. One problem: I’m falling in love with it.”

He said Xoom handles multitasking better. Xoom also has won points for its more powerful Android Honeycomb OS, its higher rez screen, better sound, HDMI jack for high def and front- and back-facing cameras.

That camera advantage is expected to be short-lived. Next Wednesday, Apple will be announcing an iPad refresh and there is every expectation that iPad 2.0 will include cameras. David Pogue said in New York Times: “If the new iPad doesn’t have a camera or two, I’ll eat a tablet.”

Scoble stopped short of recommending that his father buy a Xoom—at least this year: “Why? No apps that have been specifically designed for the 10-inch tablet, which in my experience does demand new apps. Yes, Android phone apps ‘stretch’ to bigger sizes a lot better than iPhone apps did when stretched up, but sorry we haven’t seen great apps like the History of Jazz, Aweditorium, NPR, BBC, Flipboard, Heritage, etc, like what you see on iPad.”

He said Xoom needs apps to succeed. He predicts Xoom will be the No. 2 to iPad’s No. 1.

However, Xoom and other clones face a steep climb.

Citing ABI Research, John Paczkowski said in All Things Digital: “Of the 4.5 million ‘media tablets’ shipped in the third quarter of 2010, a staggering 4.2 million were iPads.”

Apple rules with “first mover advantage.”

But Paczkowski also said: “Still, it’s worth noting in advance of the unveiling of iPad 2 next week, which will undoubtedly renew at least a portion of that advantage even as new rivals like the Motorola Xoom, HP Touchpad and BlackBerry Playbook crowd into the market.”