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Motorola Xoom priced higher than iPad; Android popularity continues to threaten Apple

by Kristen Nicole

Android has certainly taken over a good chunk of the Mobile World Congress event, which is wrapping up in Barcelona. Google (GOOG) chief Eric Schmidt revealed the next OS version, combining Honeycomb and Gingerbread into a single mobile powerhouse, while a multitude of device manufacturers stepped forward with their latest Android devices. Tablets seemed even more prominent at MWC than last month’s CES, with Samsung (005930.KS), LG and HTC (2498.TW) all showing off their respective Android gadgets.

Motorola Xoom causes sticker shock

Motorola (MMI) made a big splash with plans to sell its upcoming Xoom tablet in Europe. The mobile device maker announced its European retail partners this morning, including Best Buy and The Carphone Warehouse. Back in the states, however, the Xoom’s price point is causing sticker shock. With the 32GB tablet with 3G priced at $799, and the Wi-Fi version at $599, Motorola’s Xoom can cost you more than an Apple’s (AAPL) iPad.

Motorola mobility chief Sanjay Jha defends the high price of the Xoom, however, saying “We felt that our ability to deliver 50Mb/s would justify the $799 price point. It is 32GB with 3G and a free upgrade to 4G. Being competitive with iPad is important. We feel that from the hardware and capabilities we deliver we are at least competitive and in a number of ways better [than the iPad].”

Android Market takeover

Apple’s facing competition from the Android platform in more ways than one. Google’s mobile platform is growing at a faster rate than Apple’s, though iOS maintains the lead on developer activity, according to Lookout Mobile Security’s new App Genome Project. The report goes on to note that “if each market continues to grow at the same rate, the Android Market will have more apps than the Apple Store by mid-2012.”