CES: Motorola Mobility Comes Out Fighting With Android 3.0 Tablet


Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Mobility has come into being with a bang. On top of two exciting-looking new handsets — with AT&T, it debuted Atrix, which it claims is now the world’s most powerful smartphone; and with Verizon, it’s introducing the Droid Bionic, one of the first handsets to run on Verizon’s LTE network — it also officially showed off what it hopes will be a game-changer in the tablet market. Motorola’s Xoom is one of the first devices to use the tablet-centric Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” OS. Significantly, Motorola Mobility — which this week officially became an independent company — isn’t just spinning out flashy hardware: it’s taken a page from Apple’s book and is pushing hard on making sure that there is content out there to fit the bill, and make these devices into truly attractive consumer products.

The Xoom, which will be sold via Verizon first and will work on its LTE network, is part of the new wave of tablets that just might give the iPad a run for its money.

Like Apple’s product, the Xoom is being touted as a friend to video and other media consumption. It’s going a few steps further, though: it features a dual-core processor (important especially for video) and a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, and gives users the option to dock it to stream content through other devices like a TV. The device also features a HD camcorder and a 5-megapixel camera.

Xoom is very much aimed at the consumer market. Motorola says it will be the first tablet to connect to the new “Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Mobile Innovation service”, which sounds like an HD-optimized digital entertainment storefront, with books, music, movies, and quite possibly other content (remember the reports earlier this week of Google’s digital newsstand). Not clear if this will just be a part of the Android Market or something else entirely.

The content imperative: Motorola says it is “working to jump start the ecosystem expansion…Motorola has been collaborating closely with innovative application partners across a variety of categories, including gaming, entertainment, and business productivity, to optimize their applications for this new category of mobile computing devices.”

We have yet to see too many details of what this content will entail: Who will be Motorola’s partners? Will this be radically different from what we’ve seen in the market so far?

But it’s clear that Motorola wants to get this part of the story right, in order to interest people in buying their device over the many others now flooding the market. It’s a formula that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) nailed with its App Store — for all its flaws, that’s become the standard that all these other players follow.

The Google’s mobile blog has a good video showing some of the features of the new Honeycomb OS. Importantly, you can’t really tell which tablet the OS is running on in the video.

Xoom has first-mover advantage, and it’s a very strong first move, but I’m guessing that we will see a number of competitors also picking up Android 3.0 and running with it (Toshiba for one, and LG for another).

That all-important issue of price competition could mean that Xoom may well lose its zoom soon enough.

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