Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) said it will launch two new Xoom tablets into the European market in a bold announcement that comes a week after the company disclosed weak sales of the original Xoom slate.
Launched last February, the original Motorola Xoom was Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 3.0 Honeycomb's coming-out party. However, the device had a tepid reception from most reviewers and was often returned because it crashed or was hard to use.
After selling 440,000 Xooms in its second quarter, Motorola sold only 100,000 units of the original Xoom during the third quarter. All told, the Xoom shipped less than 1 million units worldwide, while the iPad and iPad 2 have sold over 32 million units combined.
Undaunted, the Android OEM, which Google is trying to purchase for $12.5 billion, is offering the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition machines. There are several similarities and differences between the two tablets.
First, the similarities. Both run Honeycomb 3.2, are powered by a 1.2GHz processor, possess 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage, and are equipped with 1.3MP front- and 5MP rear-facing high-definition cameras.
Both the Xoom 2 and Media Edition will also roll with MotoCast, a proprietary application that lets users stream all their music, photos, videos and documents between their PC or Mac and the tablets without any media tools, applications or cords. MotoCast is to Xoom tablets as ZumoCast is to Motorola Droid smartphones.
Now, the differences. The Xoom 2 has a 10.1-inch high-definition display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and splashguard coating, 10 hours of Web usage (including video playback) for battery life, and has VPN support and data encryption for enterprise employees, Citrix Receiver and Citrix GoToMeeting preinstalled, as well as Motoprint wireless printing support.
The Media Edition machine has an 8.2-inch screen of Gorilla Glass persuasion and splashguard, but unlike the Xoom 2, it has a 178-degree viewing angle for multiperson viewing and purportedly a 20 percent bump in graphics performance over the original Xoom. The Media Edition also sports a remote-control application to let users manage their home audio/video systems.
The Media Edition also includes six hours of Web usage, but no enterprise support or Motoprint application on board. It also weighs only 0.85 pounds, compared with the Xoom 2's 1.3 pounds, which became the standard with the iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Motorola said it will launch both tablets at Carphone Warehouse in the U.K. and Ireland, as well as Best Buy, PC World, Dixons and Currys in the U.K. in mid-November. There is no word on pricing yet.
There is also no word yet on a U.S. launch, but it would be inconceivable for the company that needs more tablet muscle to eschew Xoom 2 and Media Edition launches in the U.S.
The original Xoom was something of a disappointment (as all Android tablet sales have been to date), so it would behoove Motorola to come to market with something stronger.