Apple iPad 2, Motorola Xoom Face-Off: 10 Lessons Competitors Should Learn

News Analysis: The iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom are arguably the most capable tablets on the market right now. That fact alone should show competitors what to do and what not to do to succeed in the tablet market.

In the tablet market, it's the iPad 2, the Motorola Xoom and all the others. Those two tablets are setting the benchmark by which all other devices are judged. And yet, they couldn't be any different. They offer different screen sizes and vastly different operating systems. Although they both can connect to networks over 3G, the Xoom will be upgraded to work over 4G, a feature the iPad 2 lacks.

Even with those differences,the iPad 2 and Xoom are carrying the tablet banner right now. And as more and more competitors start breaking into the market, it will be Apple's and Motorola Mobility's devices that they will need to overcome in order to stand atop the tablet space.

Will they be successful? It's anyone's guess at this point. But before Toshiba, Research In Motion and so many other companies bring their upcoming devices to the tablet space, they need to keep the following things in mind:

1. Large displays matter

The success of Apple's iPad 2 has proved quite easily that large displays matter in the tablet space. The Dell Streak, which initially boasted a 5-inch display, was a downright failure. The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab didn't even come close to matching iPad sales. Apple's tablet, however, which comes with a 9.7-inch display, hit 15 million units sold last year. Is the large screen size the only reason the iPad was successful? Not a chance. But as Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed out in an earnings call last year, smaller screen sizes just don't make much sense in the tablet space.

2. Maybe Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' isn't ready

Android 3.0 "Honeycomb," which is running on the Motorola Xoom, was touted by Google as the best platform yet in the tablet space. Eventually, it might live up to that hype. But as of late, critics have been taking the operating system to task fornot being ready for prime time. A Global Equities Research spokesperson said recently that the operating system is "unstable and poorly designed." Perhaps companies that are preparing Honeycomb for their tablets should wait a bit for Google to work the kinks out.

3. Competing with Apple is nearly impossible

On paper, the Motorola Xoom is an outstanding device. It comes with a 10.1-inch display, a dual-core processor, the ability to upgrade to 4G and Google's new Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system. The only issue is it's getting easily beaten by Apple's iPad 2. And the chances of that changing anytime soon are, well, zero. Competing with Apple is more difficult than any company might think. The Xoom proves that.

4. Pricing is extremely important

Pricing can mean the difference between success and failure in today's tablet space. That's precisely why competitors shouldn't follow Motorola's lead and sell their tablets for the same price as, or-worse-more than, the closest iPad 2 competitor. When the WiFi-only Xoom launches on March 27,it will be on sale for $599. Apple's 32GB iPad 2 retails for $599, as well. And considering the 3G Xoom costs $799, while the iPad with 3G featuring the same 32GB of storage goes for $729, consumers are finding more to like from Apple's offering than Motorola's. Beating Apple on price is important. Just ask Motorola.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...