updated 12:20 pm EDT, Sun March 13, 2011
Xoom Wi-Fi gets Staples date, Flash 10.2 leak
Two hints have emerged that the Motorola Xoom might become more competitive soon. A leaked Staples flyer has the Wi-Fi version of the Xoom reaching stores on March 27. Droid-Life's copy also showed a $600 price, giving it a price on par with a 32GB iPad 2 but higher than the rumored Sam's Club price of $539.
The Android 3.0 tablet should be virtually the same as the one on sale with the exception of the removed 3G, but its $200 lower price could significantly increase its competitiveness in the market. Analysts have been predicting low initial sales due to Motorola's decision to lash the Xoom to Verizon, where the $800 price put it well above the prices for iPads. Apple will still have the advantage of a lower $500 entry price as well as less costly 3G versions.
Existing users meanwhile have successfully leaked an unfinished version of the Flash 10.2 beta (download sources one, two). The plugin works on Android 2.2, 2.3 and 3.0 devices and both gives the Xoom Flash for the first time and theoretically improves performance on earlier versions. Early reports have suggested that it works smoothly for standard definition video, but only if one Flash-enabled page is available. Full-screen Flash also works more smoothly since it dedicates full acceleration to Adobe's plugin.
On 3.0, Flash is also the first version to integrate directly into the website instead of being layered on top and creating conflicts with on-screen elements. Games and video still need to have interfaces optimized for touch to work properly with the Android port.
The unofficial release isn't necessarily reflective of even the beta, which is due March 18, and could see a speed up. No matter the changes, it should help Motorola by fulfilling promises the company had been making since unveiling the Xoom but which it will have been unable to fulfill for the first three weeks of sales.