Will anyone really pay $800 for Android-powered Motorola Xoom tablet?

The Motorola Xoom, the much anticipated Google Android 3.0-based tablet unveiled during CES last month, will sport a price tag of about $800 and be available on Feb. 24.

Yes, $800 (or more precisely, $799.99) – a price that industry watchers say could undercut Motorola’s efforts to compete effectively against the Apple iPad with the Xoom.

The Xoom pricing news comes via a Best Buy ad making the rounds that was first reported on by Engadget.  The ad also indicates Verizon is forcing customers to sign on for at least a 1-month data contract even to get WiFi access, with published data plans going from $20 per month for 1GB to $80 for 10GB.  That’s the same data pricing for the briskly selling Samsung Galaxy Tab offered by Verizon, though the smaller form factor Tab itself costs about $400 with a two-year contract plus data service.

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The Motorola Xoom also was promoted in a commercial during the Super Bowl that went after Apple by  playing off of the company’s classic "1984"-themed Super Bowl ad for the Mac that went after IBM’s big brother status at the time.

But the $800 Xoom price tag has some industry watchers shaking their heads about whether the Motorola offering has a shot against the Apple iPad, which can be had for $730 in a 32GB version for 3G wireless connectivity that comes with no contract. Mobile Beat writes that the "$800 price tag makes the Xoom horribly uncompetitive against the iPad or other Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab."

Mobile Beat adds that Motorola would have been better off rolling out a unit with less storage to lessen the sticker shock that will accompany its 32GB model.

The Androinica Google Android blog also was taken aback by the pricing in the ad: "If this ad is to be believed, the Xoom might be DOA based on its high-cost. As much as people love the software and hardware, Motorola may struggle to convince users to pay as much as they would to get a decent laptop." If this ad is to be believed, the Xoom might be DOA based on its high-cost. As much as people love the software and hardware, Motorola may struggle to convince users to pay as much as they would to get a decent laptop.

Boy Genius Report wrote that "we’re still pretty excited about getting our hands on a Motorola XOOM… but that $800 price-tag did take a little bit of wind out of our sails (and may take a little wind out of Moto’s sales)."

The Xoom, which will be powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, will boast a price that puts it in the neighborhood of a high-end, 64GB Apple iPad tablet, according to the U.K.-based Pocket-lint gadget website.

When the 32GB Xoom was formally introduced at CES, Motorola said the Xoom will be available by the end of March as a 3G/WiFi device with an upgrade to 4G LTE during the second quarter. The Xoom’s availability would still put it ahead of other announced Android 3.0 tablets, such as Asustek’s Eee Pad Slider.

The Xoom  will be among the first to run Google’s Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" software, which is optimized to run on tablet computers with large touchscreens such as the Xoom’s 10.1-inch high-definition one.  It also features cameras for taking HD video and conducting videoconferences, and supports Adobe Flash

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Tags smartphonesMotorolaGooglewirelessAppleNetworkingData CenterPCPhonesBest Buyhardware systemsconsumer electronicsConfiguration / maintenance3G & 4GMotorola Xoom pricing

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Bob Brown

Network World
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