Motorola Xoom’s “Flop” is No Surprise

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Well, of course Motorola has only sold 100,000 Xoom tablets so far.

That’s not a precise number, but it’s the amount of people using Android 3.0 Honeycomb, according to Deutsche Bank’s check of the Android developer website. Motorola’s Xoom is the only Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the market right now, so it’s fair to say that sales are slow. The original iPad, by comparison, sold 300,000 units in its first three days.

But what did you expect? At $799, the Xoom is more expensive than all but one iPad model. It’s $70 pricier than a comparable 32 GB iPad with 3G. And most reviewers agree that the tablet is incomplete, due to buggy Android 3.0 software, a lack of proper tablet apps and the need to send in the tablet later this year for a free 4G upgrade. We shouldn’t be surprised that people aren’t banging down the door for this thing.

Still, let’s not write off Android tablets due to the Xoom’s reportedly poor performance. As we saw with Android phones, the platform’s strength lies in its ability offer a variety of hardware at a wider range of prices than Apple’s our-way-or-no-way iPad. The cheap Android tablets are coming, running the gamut of screen sizes, with neat features like Asus’ optional keyboard and touchpad that turns the Eee Pad Transformer into a laptop. Eventually, Google will clean up Android 3.0, and the platform will start to look like a decent iPad alternative.

Even the Xoom may get a shot at redemption. A Wi-Fi version of the tablet landed in retail stores last week, knocking the price down to $599. That’s what Motorola should have done in the first place, instead of kissing Verizon Wireless’ toes and coming out of the gate with an overpriced, unfinished product.