Motorola Xoom: Tablet Mania
Intel founder Andy Groove once famously quipped, “Only the paranoid survive.” And if you’re a notebook manufacturer, there’s plenty to be paranoid about. Tablet sales are growing at what other mobile solution providers might consider an alarming rate. From one year to the next, you're looking at nearly doubled sales. Meanwhile, the already-mature notebook market is growing at a much slower pace.
No one saw this coming. Apple jump-started the tablet market by introducing its iPad in 2010 (check out our iPad 2 review), and it was a total shock to many industry observers. Here was what looked like an oversized smartphone, armed with a standard (4:3) aspect ratio display that sold like hotcakes. Almost incredibly, last quarter, close to 20% of Apple’s total revenue ($13.5 billion) came from iPad sales. So, is it really any wonder why every other company wants to now jump up on the tablet bandwagon?
The problem is that no one has Apple’s experience combining hardware and software. This void is creating some interesting partnerships. For example, Nvidia sees huge potential in selling mobile hardware, which explains all the cash it’s spending to develop Tegra. But it doesn't have any background on the software side. Conversely, Google has a great mobile operating system known as Android, but it doesn't really do anything with hardware. Motorola is good at creating mobile platforms, but it lacks a touchscreen-based OS, and it's also out of touch with designing processors. So, you really need all three working together to design a suitable alternative to Apple's iPad.
This makes the tablet scene a lot more exciting than reviewing desktop PCs, where you might get a couple of different components and some custom paint. When you buy a tablet other than an iPad, you're getting something completely different. That’s why I was excited when a Motorola Xoom turned up on my doorstep. It’s not just a product of Motorola’s engineering. It’s also a reflection on Google and Nvidia, and it promises a completely different experience.