updated 06:55 pm EST, Wed January 26, 2011
Motorola 7in Xoom due 2H11, no Android 3 delay
Along with its discussion of the Verizon iPhone's impact, Motorola during its fiscal results call confirmed some of its launch strategy for tablets beyond the Xoom and hoped to allay growing fears about the timing. The company now expects to have a seven-inch Android tablet in the second half of 2011. Although not providing details on this smaller screen, company chief Sanjay Jha also confirmed plans for a Wi-Fi only Xoom in the nearer future as well as a matching version of the seven-inch slate.
Jha also rebuffed Apple's criticisms of small tablets and explained that there had to be variety. Tablets for teens and the home had to be different than those for enterprise, he said. There would have to be different sizes and prices along with both cellular and Wi-Fi versions. "The size will make a difference," the executive said, noting that the current split between 3G and Wi-Fi tablet demand was equal.
Attempting to allay mounting fears that the rough state of Android 3.0 would lead to a delay for Xoom, the company leader insisted that the inaugural tablet for the platform was still on track to ship before the end of February. There could be some "modest variation" in the ship date, but it wasn't expected, Jha said. Motorola's decision to put the release so close to the CES unveiling was considered a sign of confidence.
The tablet could reach stores as soon as February 17, but worries have grown that the OS is being rushed. Google may have inadvertently supported the concerns after releasing an Android 3.0 SDK in a "preview" form that didn't reflect the final release, even with as little as three weeks to go. An SDK can sometimes reflect an earlier version of a release but is usually put out side-by-side with the release of the OS.
Motorola had demonstrated the Xoom at CES using a live version of Android 3.0 but by playing pre-recorded videos showing features rather than controlling the tablet.
On sales expectations, the CEO said it was too early to say how many of the 20 million to 23 million Android devices shipping in 2011 would be tablets.