So apparently there’s a new Xoom in the works. Big surprise, right? The old one is nearing its eight month birthday and thanks to the rapid Android aging process, it’s about as a relevant as a Handspring Visor at this point. But in all seriousness, does anyone care any more? I ask that with void of snark or sarcasm. I’m serious: Does anyone care about Honeycomb tablets anymore?
Honeycomb was supposed to be the iOS killer. It was supposed to stand-up, challenge the mighty iOS and ultimately slay the champion through a power combo of multitasking and openness. But it didn’t happen mainly because consumers don’t care about that nonsense. They want apps, which Honeycomb has very few. So here’s Android tablets now, sitting on retailers’ end-caps and shelves, huddled together, sharing the warmth of a single power brick just hoping someone will figure out how to unlock their screens.
Back to my question that’s not influenced by any nefarious bias. It was almost a given that Motorola would release a successor to the original Xoom. The original Xoom was the first Honeycomb tablet and it was supposed to be the Android faithful’s Joshua and purge the consumer landscape of the iPad insurgents. Companies don’t release a product, see what happens, and then start developing the next model. No, they map the course and what leaked today is just details about the next stop on Motorola’s Android trip.
The specs sound nice: an 8.2-inch HD IPS screen, an unnamed 1.2GHz CPU, faster RAM, Netflix HD, 1080p cam, and an IR emitter just in case you want a massive TV remote. Per ThisIsMyNext, all this comes in a casing that’s 9mm thick. That’s 0.2mm thicker than the iPad 2’s 8.8mm thickness in case that matters to you. (Hat tip to Droid-Life for the images)
But specs do not sell tablets. Most consumers are looking for a different experience than what they can get on their desktop or notebook. Without knowing it, they’re looking for lasting novelty. Sure, some consumers want multitasking, some want a tweakable interface, perhaps some out there even want a tablet with seven homescreens and an app drawer. That’s where Android tablets come in. The iPad, however, captures consumers with a slightly new paradigm in portable computing and does so with style and class.
Android tablet makers are going to steal their own revenue by following the PC notebook’s time-honored tradition of releasing new products every quarter. This upcoming Xoom model will steal sales from the original Xoom while seemingly offering nothing but a smaller casing. It will further divide the Android fanboys and ultimately dilute the appeal.
Little is really known about this next Xoom tablet. It could perhaps follow the trailblazing spirit of its predecessor by launching as the first Ice Cream Sandwich tablet, which would restart the iPad hype machine but would likely fall short again. Some commenters will no doubt cry that it’s premature declaring a product irrelevant or unwelcomed prior to its announcement, let alone release. They’ll state that we don’t have all the facts, or that this tablet could be different, or even, consumers are looking for something more than a large iPod touch. That’s what they said when I stated the BlackBerry Playbook, then called just by its codename of BlackPad, would crash and burn. (Here’s the post, but the hundreds of comments were lost when TechCrunch swallowed CrunchGear)
Look, I’m not an Android hater. I’m a very curious onlooker. I look at new Android tablets like I look at my Droid X vs the new Android phones and conclude that the new phones, say the Galaxy S II, lack any new compelling features besides the 4G radio.
Choice is good. But often, and this is coming from years of working retail, too many options overwhelm the average consumer who is just looking to get in and out of a store with the latest gadget and minimum hassle. So on one Best Buy shelve is a baker’s dozen of Android tablets, priced within a $100 of each other, all featuring nearly identical processing speeds and RAM types. Then, five feet away, is the iPad 2 advertised with its blockbuster apps where the only choice is 3G or WiFi and white or black. Apparently rather soon a new Motorola Android tablet will join its friends, but unless it features a $100 price tag, it will fail to get any attention.