Motorola is planning to release the WiFi-only Xoom on March 27 for $599. The device, like the WiFi-only iPad 2, is the same basic product as the 3G version, but won’t allow users to connect to a mobile carrier’s network.
It’s likely a fine option for those customers who want to be able to test the tablet waters without getting bogged down into a two-year commitment or paying more than they would like for the 3G option.
But perhaps now the question is whether consumers and enterprise customers should even consider buying the WiFi-only Xoom. Sure, the device is essentially the same as its 3G counterpart, less the 3G connectivity. But there are several other products on the market that might deliver a greater value proposition. More importantly, is the $599 WiFi-only Xoom really worth the money? It’s tough to say.
For now, it seems that most customers would do better to forget about the WiFi-only Motorola Xoom and opt for another device.
Read on to find out why:
1. The 3G version is the same price
Let’s not forget that the 3G-compatible version of the Motorola Xoom retails for $599.99 when customers get into a two-year commitment with Verizon. Granted, there are monthly data charges on top of that, but if the upfront cost is an issue for customers and they don’t mind paying monthly data fees, why would they even consider choosing the Xoom?
2. It matches iPad 2 pricing
Motorola might have made a mistake by offering the WiFi-only Xoom for $599.The 32GB version of the WiFi-only iPad 2 retails for the same price. In other words, Motorola’s option is being put on a level playing field with Apple’s tablet. Considering the hype that the iPad 2 is enjoying and the fact that the Apple tablet sold out in its first weekend of availability, Motorola might not want to put its WiFi-only model on an even playing field with its chief competitor.
3. A tablet is about mobility
Although Apple has enjoyed some success selling the WiFi-only versions of the iPad and iPad 2, it’s the 3G-compatible models that make the most sense. Let’s face it: Tablets are designed to be mobile companions when consumers or enterprise customers are on the go. Sure, some Xoom owners might be content to use their tablets at home or on a public WiFi hot spot. But an essential requirement for achieving full-scale mobility these days is the ability to connect to a 3G network. The WiFi-only Xoom won’t do that. That should turn some customers away.
4. Say goodbye to 4G
One of the key selling points of the Motorola Xoom is that its 3G option will be upgraded to connect to Verizon’s 4G network. So, customers in cities that have 4G available will be able to connect to WiFi, 3G or 4G, depending on where they are and their desired connectivity speed. The WiFi-only Xoom won’t have that flexibility. It’s unfortunate. And it’s a black mark on the device.
WiFi-Only Xoom Offers Poor Trade-Offs
5. No value to the enterprise
Enterprise customers who were thinking about buying a tablet would likely opt for the iPad 2 or the Motorola Xoom with 3G connectivity. That’s a good idea. As mentioned, the upcoming Xoom model won’t be able to connect to carrier networks. That means that if employees need to access the Web while on the go and away from a WiFi hot spot, they’re out of luck. Such a productivity issue is a major problem for corporate customers.
6. It’s the same device
Undoubtedly, there are some people who don’t view a WiFi-only version of the Motorola Xoom as such a bad thing. Those folks feel that there might be other benefits to it. But the reality is, there isn’t a single meaningful benefit to not having 3G. The device is still the same size, it’s running the same software, and it offers the same functionality. It’s the Motorola Xoom as it was known before, only without 3G. Other than saving some cash each month from data fees, there is no benefit to opting for the WiFi-only model over the 3G version.
7. More devices are coming
Whether it’s the Motorola Xoom or the iPad 2, consumers and especially enterprise customers should consider the fact that they have nothing but time to get their hands on a tablet. Perhaps the best move now is to examine what’s coming along in the next few months to determine which tablet is best. Motorola has showed its hand with both a 3G and WiFi version of the Xoom. Why not find out what others will offer?
8. Let the “Honeycomb” kinks get worked out
Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” is arguably the most exciting mobile operating system on the market. It comes with full tabbed browsing, improved multitasking, and a design that combines the virtues of both mobile operating systems and desktop PCs. It’s also running on the Xoom. However, since the Xoom’s launch,Honeycomb has been taking shots from critics. One such critic from Global Equities Research said in a statement recently that Honeycomb “is unstable and poorly designed.” Others say Google didn’t do enough testing on the OS before releasing it. Those issues should be kept in mind before customers run to buy the WiFi-only Xoom.
9. Some PCs are cheaper
At $599,the WiFi-only Motorola Xoom is priced in the middle of the tablet pack. But if budget-conscious customers are really looking for the best mobile device at the cheapest price, opting for a netbook or lightweight notebook might be a better option. In some cases, netbooks with 3G connectivity can be purchased for as little as $199. More capable models can be purchased for far less than $600. They won’t deliver the flash of tablets, but they will likely offer more productivity than the WiFi-only Xoom.
10. The iPad 2 changes everything
As mentioned, the 32GB WiFi-only iPad 2 retails for the same price as Motorola’s option. But there’s more to that than just pricing. The iPad 2, which launched on March 11, has caught on in a big way with consumers. The device is sold out all over the United States and will likely remain so for weeks. It has set a new benchmark in the tablet space. And although the 3G Xoom has several improvements over Apple’s offering, the mainstream still views the iPad 2 as the standard by which all others are judged. With only WiFi connectivity, it’s tough to say whether Motorola’s latest Xoom release can stand up to that. The 4G upgrade on the 3G Xoom is central to the device’s value to customers. Without it in the WiFi-only model,the Xoom is little more than another iPad competitor that will have trouble keeping pace.