Motorola primes retail pump for $600 Wi-Fi Xoom tablet

Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) will release the Wi-Fi-only version of its Xoom Android tablet March 27 for $599, putting it into direct competition with a similar version of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad 2. The 32 GB Wi-Fi-only version of the Xoom is the same price as Apple's 32 GB Wi-Fi-only model of the iPad 2--a notable comparison considering Apple's Steve Jobs highlighted the Xoom's initial $800 price tag during his unveiling of the iPad 2 as evidence that Apple's tablet competitors couldn't compete on price.

Motorola said that the Wi-Fi version of the Xoom will go on sale through, Best Buy, Costco, RadioShack, Staples and Wal-Mart and select Sam's Club locations. Motorola also is trying to expand the reach of the Xoom, its first tablet, to commercial IT channels through a distribution agreement with Synnex Corp. and to regional carriers through a deal with Brightpoint.

The Xoom went on sale in late February and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said a few days after the launch that the Xoom had been selling "relatively well." Although the Xoom with cellular connections is $800 unsubsidized and $600 with a two-year contract from Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), Jha said he felt the device's performance justified the price. Starting sometime in the second quarter, the tablet also can be upgraded to support Verizon's LTE network.

Apple began selling the Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad 2 as well as models with cellular connectivity March 11, and early sales were extremely robust. Analysts estimated that Apple sold 500,000 iPad 2s last weekend, intensifying pressure on other tablet competitors. Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt estimated earlier this month that Motorola will sell around 300,000 Xoom tablets in the first quarter.

The Xoom runs Android 3.0, or "Honeycomb," and boasts a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. It also features a 10.1-inch widescreen HD display. The device supports 1080p HD video and HDMI output to display content on larger HD screens. Additionally, the Xoom has a front-facing, 2-megapixel camera for video chats over Wi-Fi, EV-DO or LTE, as well as a rear-facing 5-megapixel camera that captures video in 720p HD.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Electronista article

Related Articles:
Analysts: Apple sold around 500,000 iPad 2s in debut weekend
Motorola will release more tablets, bring webtop app to high-end smartphones
Motorola's Jha: LTE justifies Xoom tablet's $800 price tag
Motorola unveils Xoom, Android 'Honeycomb' tablet