Motorola's Xoom tablet is seen by many as the iPad's first big competitor, but its steep $800 price and lack of Adobe Flash support suggest otherwise.
Has the upcoming Motorola Xoom fallen at the first hurdle in the fight against Apple's iPad dominance? After Motorola announced its iPad competitor will cost more than the iPad, a Verizon promo uncovered the fact that the Xoom won't come with support for Adobe's Flash technology until sometime this spring.
Support for Adobe's Flash technology has been an argument for the Android operating system since Apple CEO Steve Jobs notoriously said that Flash is a dying technology and that it won't make it onto iOS devices for several reasons. Flash support appeared in Android with version 2.2 and Google even flaunted it as a killer feature for tablets running Honeycomb (3.0), like the Motorola Xoom.
But it looks like Adobe and/or Google have yet to put the finishing touches on Flash's implementation in Android 3.0. An advertisement for the Xoom on Verizon's site says (in 6 point text at the bottom) that Adobe Flash support on the Xoom is expected in Spring 2011, meaning this functionality won't be available at the launch of the first Honeycomb tablet on February 24. Considering how slow carriers and manufacturers are when it comes to software updates, this Spring 2011 update could mean more like late Spring 2011 ETA.
Meanwhile, Adobe said last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it is still working on Flash 10.2 for smartphones and tablets running Android. The company promised users of dual-core tablets and phones will benefit of HD Flash video and up to 30 frames per second performance. Flash 10.2 for Windows and Mac has been released earlier this month, but Adobe gave no clear indication when the mobile version of the plugin will actually be available for users.
So far, despite positive initial reactions from reviewers, the Motorola Xoom has failed two tests against the iPad. Despite the Xoom's better specifications, the tablet is still more expensive than the closest iPad match. The 32GB 3G iPad is $729, while the Xoom equivalent is $800, besides any contracts you might have to sign with Verizon. Add that to the fact that Flash support will be missing initially, a defining feature in the war against the iPad, and Xoom's chances to be a major hit suddenly don't stack up that well.