Motorola Mobility's Xoom tablet computer is struggling from weak demand due to the bugginess and complexity of the Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" OS, says analyst Trip Chowdry.
As Apple's iPad 2 flew off
shelves at Apple Stores, Best Buy and other retailers around
the country, sales of its rival Motorola Mobility Xoom tablet have been weak,
according to analysts' channel checks.
Verizon Wireless and Best Buy began selling the 10.1-inch Xoom
Feb. 24 for $599 with a two-year contract and $799 off
contract. The slate computer has a dual-core, 1GHz processor; dual cameras; and
4G upgrade capabilities. Verizon declined to comment on Xoom sales numbers.
However, Global Equities Research said one of its purported strengths, the
newfangled Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system, is actually the
Xoom's Achilles' heel.
Global Equities analyst Trip Chowdry said Honeycomb is the weakest link, as
it is buggy, "extremely complicated and confusing," which means the
tablet will be relegated to the geek tech community and not gain mass adoption.
Chowdry noted in a March 9 research note:
Google Honeycomb is suffering from frequent
application freezes and crashes.
The battery life is very inconsistent, sometimes
lasting for 2 hours and sometimes for 6 hours.
The battery standby life is mere a 10 to 12
hours versus 30 days on Apple iPad.
Auto-wrap, if text is magnified, is completely
missing, which just shows Google is missing attention to simple details.
Moreover, users are frustrated with the Honeycomb UI, as Chowdry quoted many
users saying it "just does not come naturally-you really have to work on
it" and that "Honeycomb just does not cut it."
The anecdotal evidence led Chowdry to conclude that Google's perpetual beta
strategy, which worked fine for Gmail, Google Voice and Google Maps, has
backfired on Honeycomb tablets.
The key difference is those apps are free, while the Xoom is a consumer
device priced at a premium while the iPad 2 offers similar functionality and
performance at first iPad prices.
"Apple has set the perfection bar too high for Google to achieve and
has also raised the expectations from the customers too on what to expect from
the software," Chowdry said, adding that Google may not get a second
chance to make a good impression in the market.
Google declined to comment on Chowdry's report, which is not the only one to
highlight subpar Xoom sales.
Jefferies and Co. analyst Peter Misek March 11 said
Xoom sales have been underwhelming, meaning Motorola Mobility
will likely have to cut production if it already has not done so.
"We believe the device has been a bit buggy and did not meet the magic
price point of $500," Misek said. "We believe management knows this
and is hurrying development and production of lower cost tablets. Importantly
we believe management will likely have to make the painful decision to accept
little to no margin initially in order to match iPad 2's wholesale
As an aside, eWEEK reviewed
the Xoom and found it to be relatively easy to use,
reported no crashes, and had a battery life that was comparable to that of the