The hints about the capabilities of the Motorola Xoom were subtle when the first television commercial appeared during the Super Bowl this year. The ad, which paid homage to Apple's famed '1984' commercial, while also quietly pointing out ways in which the Xoom was better, was an attempt to do Apple one better. On the surface it was a love story, but in the process of getting there, the ad pointed out the Xoom's cameras, its GPS and geographic database, and its ability to send movies from one device to another.
Regardless of whether you're an iPad fan or an Android fan, this was an excellent commercial that raised the bar of competition. And it's a bar that badly needed to be raised. While there are several Android tablets available now, they aren't really competition for the Apple iPad. Some of the Android tablets are a little too small to be useful, some really aren't running an operating system designed for a tablet environment and some-the cheap ones-aren't very well made. The Xoom brings some serious competition to the tablet market.
Chances are, Hewlett-Packard will do the same when we finally get to see something substantive about its WebOS tablet, but that hasn't happened yet. But for now, Motorola is probably the most serious competition Apple has for your tablet dollars. In addition, because it runs on the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, you can expect to see a near-constant stream of updates once the device is introduced. By the looks of the Super Bowl ad, the Xoom already is more feature-rich than the iPad. Continued improvement will keep Apple's feet to the fire when it comes to meeting customer demand in the future.
And if there's anything Apple needs, it's a little motivation to meet customer demand. For far too long the company has selected features based on what Apple and its executives thought was cool. What the customers wanted wasn't usually part of the equation. This is why you don't have Flash on your iPad or iPhone, for example. It's not because it won't work, it's because Steve Jobs and other Apple executives don't like it. In the past Apple could get away with this because there was relatively little serious competition.
Now, however, competition has arrived. Motorola has repeatedly shown that it can produce devices and deliver software that can give Apple a run for its money. Its Droid line of phones, produced for Verizon Wireless, was a large part of the reason why Android has passed Apple's iOS in sales. Now, Motorola, working again with Verizon Wireless, is getting ready to do the same thing for tablets.
Of course, it's unlikely that Motorola will drive Apple from the enterprise, but what the Xoom will do is provide features that the iPad doesn't have, and do a good enough job providing them that customers will want to buy Xooms for work instead of iPads. Apple, wanting to keep its market share up this time, will have little choice but to respond to customer demand. When this happens, tablets of all types will get better-resulting in a win-win situation for you, the customer.