Retailers are unwittingly positioning the Motorola Xoom as a me-too tablet, as if competing against the Apple brand isn't hard enough already.
This week it was reported that Motorola sold an estimated 100,000 Xoom tablets. Not an impressive number when compared with the iPad 2, which sold about 500,000 units in its first weekend of sales.
And retailers seem to be abetting this trend, however unintentional that may be. It's become quickly apparent at retailers that Motorola and other tablet makers like Samsung are falling into the me-too category. Best Buy's Web site makes this painfully clear by the lead image on its tablet page (see graphic above).
As of Thursday, Verizon's "Wireless" front page also shows the iPad all by its lonesome with an image of the Xoom labeled as simply "tablets."
But it's not much better on the brick-and-mortar front. In the Los Angeles area, the Xoom hardly stands out against the iPad at my local Verizon store, which I visited Thursday night. The iPad and iPad 2 are now the main items in the tablet display area, with the Xoom to the side with the Samsung Galaxy Tab. (That said, this segregating of the Apple brand applies to phones, also.)
And the Verizon sales representative I chatted with admitted that the Apple brand is a magnet for many consumers, giving the iPad the upper hand in sales.
The challenge for Motorola doesn't end with the iPad, either. By placing the Xoom next to the Galaxy Tab, the Xoom's price looms large as a disincentive: the Galaxy Tab is priced at $199 and the Xoom at $599 with a two-year contract.
As I said in an earlier post, RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, due later this month, will only make the Xoom that less unique. Not to mention upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab designs.
I guess the good news is that consumers can walk into a Verizon store and get the Xoom--the first device sporting Google's Android 3.0 software--today. No Apple-store daily sell-outs here.
Update: Best Buy is temporarily halting iPad 2 sales. "Our stores have been asked to temporarily hold non-reserved iPad 2 inventory for an upcoming promotion," Best Buy spokesman Jeff Haydock said in response to an e-mail query. "Best Buy continues to receive iPad 2 inventory from Apple on a regular basis. As we've said previously, we are fulfilling customer reservations first," he said.
"This is a customary practice for us when there are supply constraints. Best Buy enjoys a great partnership with Apple, and we're delighted by the customer response to iPad 2," he wrote.
Updated at 11:00 a.m. PST: adding discussion about Best Buy and temporary halt of iPad 2 sales.