Motorola has launched a version of its Xoom Android tablet without 3G mobile broadband support, with the device having gone on sale through JB Hi-Fi and other retailers today for a recommended retail price of $689, a price which makes it comparable with the Wi-Fi version of Apple’s market-dominating iPad.
Previously, customers could only buy the Xoom through Telstra or Optus, with the pair bundling 3G mobile broadband plans with the tablet in a similar approach to the sale of smartphones. Telstra is also selling the 3G Xoom for an up-front cost of $840.
The Xoom is one of the first devices to run the third major version of Google’s Android platform, which has been designed for the tablet form factor, with the Wi-Fi Xoom slated to actually run the updated 3.1 release. It is supported by a dual-core 1GHz processor, 32GB of memory and 1GB of RAM. It sports a 10.1 inch, 1280×800 widescreen display, a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera. The device is built from anodized aluminum.
The 3.1 version of Android will be available as a download in July, Motorola said today. The company will also activate the tablet’s Micro SD card slot at that point, which has remained unusable up until now.
“The Motorola XOOM continues to be a great success for Motorola and we wanted to add to our portfolio the Wi-Fi variant to give consumers a choice,” said Timo Brouwer, managing director, Motorola Mobility ANZ and South Pacific in a statement. B Hi-Fi marketing director Scott Browning said the company was “delighted” to be able to broaden its customers’ choice by stocking the tablet.
The price point for the Wi-Fi Xoom will place it at a similar level to other comparable tablets available in Australia. Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook, for example, starts at $579, although it ships with a smaller screen size, while Toshiba’s own 10.1″ tablet will go for $579 on Australian shores. The 32GB Wi-Fi version of Apple’s iPad tablet costs $689, although a cheaper 16GB Wi-Fi version is also available. For $40 more, customers can get a 16GB version of the iPad equipped with a 3G connection.
The news comes as analysts expect sales of Android tablets to skyrocket this year, despite Apple’s iPad maintaining its dominance over the tablet market.
“While the launch of Android 3.0 Honeycomb media tablets may not be significant enough to cause a shift in the competitors’ landscape now, this will spur growth in Android tablets within 2011,” said Yee-Kuan Lau, market analyst for IDC Australia, in a statement this week. Further competition is also expected to shake up the market, with the release of the BlackBerry PlayBook locally this month and the imminent arrival of HP’s webOS tablets later this year.
Image credit: Motorola