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Xoom, Atrix struggling in iPad-dominated world

by Phil Hornshaw

It’s probably too early to say, but that isn’t stopping analysts from calling the game already: The Motorola Xoom tablet and Atrix smartphone are disappointing at best, flops at worst.

According to a story from PC World, analyst James Faucette of Pacific Crest told Forbes the sales numbers of the two devices have been disappointing so far, only a few weeks after their release. The sales are “well below forecast,” apparently, although Motorola (MMI) hasn’t released any numbers just yet. Faucette blames the iPad 2 out-competing the Xoom, and cheaper Android phones cutting into the sales of the Atrix smartphone.

The Xoom came out of the gate with a lot of things working against it, not the least of which the fact that Apple strategically targeted the announcement of the iPad 2 to torpedo the Xoom’s release. Apple (AAPL) sent out invites to its March iPad 2 announcement on the day the Xoom hit shelves, and then released its tablet not long after. The Xoom ended up looking big and clunky next to the super-thin iPad 2, and it also launched with a few issues, like a lack of Flash support.

Price is also an issue with the Xoom. Without a 3G data contract, the Xoom retails at $800 for a 32GB model -- with a contract, it’s $600. Compare that to the cheapest iPad 2 at $499 (with 16GB of storage and Wi-Fi only; the 32GB iPad 2 is $599, and with 3G support it’s $729), and it makes sense that the Xoom is having trouble getting attention.

The Atrix 4G isn’t faring any better, and it seems that price might be the issue for the smartphone as well. It has AT&T (T) as a carrier and sports a 4-inch display and a dual-core processor, making it pretty powerful for a smartphone. But Motorola might have overdone it on the specs, however, and while the price is comparable to a lot of other Android phones and the iPhone -- $199 on contract -- it might just be too much phone for most people to handle.

One of the Atrix’s big gimmicks is a $500 laptop dock that adds a screen and keyboard to the phone to make it function as a mini-computer. Reviewers around the Internet haven’t been too fond of the dock, and that probably hasn’t helped the Atrix get noticed. The device also carries an older version of Android: 2.2 instead of 2.3.

It’s troubling to see Motorola’s devices struggling, especially when Xoom and the Atrix showed such promise in the past. But it goes to show that there needs to be more for competitors in the mobile sphere than just creating the same thing. Without something great to distinguish the Xoom or a strong, working novelty like the Atrix’s laptop dock (which really should have been top-notch when released), the devices will continue to struggle against Apple’s extremely solid iOS foundation.