The Motorola XOOM is expected to be the first tablet to launch with Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb and the device has been getting a lot of attention since it was introduced at CES last month. But the company hasn’t shared official pricing or launch date details yet. That’s where the leak-and-rumor mill comes in, and the latest grist for the mill is a doozy: According to a leaked Best Buy ad the XOOM will be available on February 24th for a whopping $799.99.

Oh yeah, and at launch there won’t be a WiFi-only XOOM tablet, so you’ll have to pay full price for a model with a 3G modem even if you don’t want to use it with Verizon Wireless… and according to the Best Buy ad, you have to pay for at least one month of Verizon service to activate the WiFi functionality.

Now, bear in mind this ad may not be the real deal. As the folks at Reddit have pointed out, there are a couple of rather obvious typos in the ad copy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. How many ads, newspaper articles, books, and other professionally produced content have you read that have been littered with typos and other errors?

So is the XOOM worth $800? You know what? It actually might be. The machine has a dual core processor and higher resolution display than the iPad. It also has front and rear-facing cameras, HD video recording and playback capabilities, and Motorola promises it will be possible to upgrade the 3G capable tablet to support 4G networks.

So when you compare the XOOM on paper to the equivalent iPad (with a 3G modem and 32GB of storage), the XOOM actually comes out ahead in most respects (We’ll leave the question of whether you prefer iOS 4.x or Android 3.0 better out of it for now). And how much does that iPad cost? $729. So the rumored price for the XOOM is only about $71 higher.

Of course, Apple will likely introduce the iPad 2 within the next few months, and we don’t really know which device will have the better hardware or price at that point.

But the larger issue is that I’ve seen a lot of internet commenters proclaiming that the rumored $800 price tag is ridiculous and that the XOOM is already a failure if that’s the price — despite the fact that it’s really not much more expensive than an equivalent product from Apple which has been flying off the shelves.

I think part of the problem is that Apple surprised everybody with the introduction of the iPad by not giving it a ridiculously high price tag. Apple is known for making high quality hardware which generally costs more than the competition. While there are plenty of folks who claim that Apple computers actually aren’t more expensive than their PC counterparts when you account for all the software, support services, and other things that you get when you buy a Mac, the truth is that I can walk into a store and buy a Windows computer for about $300 today, while the cheapest Mac available runs $699… and that’s for a desktop model without a display.

Apple computers generally cost more than PCs.

So when a company like Motorola competes with Apple, everyone expects the company to do it on price. But the thing is that iPad isn’t necessarily overpriced for what you get, so it’s hard to compete on price and Motorola and other companies are actually trying to compete on features.

Still, $800 is a hard sell for a device designed to fill a niche that didn’t necessarily exist a year ago. Apple offers cheaper options with less storage or without the 3G modem. Motorola doesn’t have a cheaper option yet.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see Verizon and other wireless carriers subsidizing the price of the XOOM to make it more palatable. The same thing has been happening with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is the first Android 2.2 tablet to really take on the iPad.

via Engadget

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14 replies on “Motorola XOOM to run $800, require 1 month commitment to unlock WiFi?”

  1. There’s an odd phenonemon. Even if people buy a $729 iPad, they feel like they paid $500 or so for it because everybody remembers that $500 is the entry level price. People will instinctively think of the Xoom as being very expensive, because in their mind they won’t compare it to a $729 model, but to the $500 model.

  2. Even if I wanted this tablet, I would not want it for $800.00, and then to be blackmailed into giving Verizon mim. of $20.00 to unlock the WiFi, that is a major deal breaker.

    Jesse James (1847-1882) used a gun!

    I think it would be best to wait a few months until Best Buy is eating them and lowers the price or get it on eBay or Craigslist after the WiFi has been unlocked.

  3. Samsung failed to put a dent in Apple’s #1 consumer tablet position by launching at a similar price to the ipad. The ipad could claim premium pricing at launch as it had and still pretty much has a monopoly. The competition has yet to really catch up. Any android tablet needs to be priced under the ipad if it is to be accepted in mass by users.

    At $600-650 this would probably be really popular. At $800 it becomes niche. I imagine motorola are trying to take advantage of being the first honeycomb device but that probably isn’t going to help them compete against Apple which should be the true goal here … not just to beat other android slates.

    1. I am not sure what the build cost is for one of these but ya to really smack Apple (if that is their plan) $650 max would be really competitive not $800

  4. Interesting turn of events. Maybe I’m a cynic, but it sounds to me like, “hype the absurd rumor to make the mediocre reality seem great” on the part of Best Buy and/or Verizon and/or Motorola. ie. manipulating expectations.

    One thing that may come out of the introduction of higher priced (than the iPad) Android tablets is bring into question the veracity of claims that people only buy Apple products because of the alleged status symbol of owning one. The claim being that the “inflated” pricing of Apple products make it “boutique chic”.

    It will be hard for that claim to stick should the iPad be the cheapest tablet (other than the cheap Chinese knock-offs)

    1. Premium pricing or inflated pricing (as you call it) is a time honored marketing technique you’ll find in any marketing textbook.

      In the Ipads case since Its dirt cheap and the majority of owners use it at home it probably doesn’t count as a status symbol.

  5. sorry, I can buy an all-in-one touch pc with a full OS for less than this thing. I think the carriers & Moto see sheep coming and want some fleece.

    1. But will that all-in-one PC weigh less than 2 pounds, run for 12 hours on a battery, and connect to 3G networks?

      Different features can be expensive on different types of devices. A few years ago people dismissed netbooks because for the $400 or $500 that you’d pay for an Eee PC or MSI Wind, you could get a more powerful computer. They weren’t taking into account the fact that netbooks were priced the way they were because of the portability factor.

      I paid $530 to by a Google Nexus One smartphone because I wanted to get it contract-free. That’s more than I’ve paid for most of the netbooks I’ve purchased even though the phone is arguably less powerful than a *full* computer. But you pay to get the features it has in a different package.

      That said, $800 is still a lot of money, and I’d be surprised if this thing sells well without some subsidies. Most people in the US don’t pay full price for their phones. They buy them subsidized by carriers so that it looks like the phone costs $200 or less.

      1. Subsidies are bad enough to swallow on cell phones, BUT does anyone need a netbook/tablet tied to a separate data plan for 24 months?… No, I didn’t think so…

        1. Oh, I agree with you. But because phones are largely subsidized, people tend to think phone/tablet components are cheap. My point is that my phone cost $530 without a subsidy. So I wouldn’t be shocked if a device with a faster processor, larger display, two cameras, and a larger battery sells for $800 unsubsidized.

          I just don’t know if people are ready to pay for that, which is where subsidies come in… they’ll make it *look* like the tablet is even cheaper, which could help them sell.

          Hopefully Motorola will also bring a WiFi-only Xoom to market for $100 to $200 less eventually for those that don’t want or need mobile broadband.

          1. I feel like the issue is not so much that it is more expensive than some iPad offerings. It is that in order to get the price down, it will be subsidized. As a techno-geek, I am tired of some of the failure of Android Tablets being due to prices that merely make them comparable to ipad pricing, but IOT do so, are coupled with two year contracts. Then when they are not subsidized they cost as much as…what? You guessed it…a UMPC. Those did not sell (even though I loved them and owned three), and I am not sure the same pricing model is going to sell any better for tablets.

          2. So the new phones coming out would cost $800 – (screen + battery cost difference)? That’s expensive!

      2. Yup yup. All of the AMD fusion notebooks being released this month fit the bill for $300 less.

        Full disclosure though: 6 hrs battery life, 3 pounds weight, in exchange for a chiclet keyboard and windows 7

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