Xoom tablet picks up 'freedom' theme from Apple's 1984 ad

The Motorola Xoom is expected to go on sale in February

Freedom is clearly a big theme in consumer technology marketing, going back to that iconic "1984" ad from Apple of the sledgehammer-wielding runner attacking Big Brother.

Motorola Mobility has updated that freedom theme in a new one-minute ad to air during this year's Super Bowl. Motorola contrasts its upcoming Xoom tablet with the Apple ipad by referencing 1984, the year.

In the 1984 ad, Apple itself was attacking a Big Brother image, explained by CEO Steve Jobs as IBM -- "IBM wants it all," he said at the time. But many viewers saw the ad as a shot at Microsoft, which made software running on IBM PCs. (This video shows Jobs introducing the 1984 ad and the ad itself. )

Today, the iPad dominates the tablet market.

Motorola is clearly challenging that iPad domination in the Xoom ad, but with a bit of humor: It opens with an image of a spinning Earth wearing recognizable white Apple earbuds.

No images of either tablet actually appear in the commercial, but the comparisons between the Android Honeycomb-enabled Xoom and the iPad are there.

The text in the ads notes, "2011 looks a lot like 1984...One authority...One design...One way to work...It's time for more choices."

Against a heavy drumbeat of music, the Xoom is further described in text as offering more speed with a dual-core 1GHz processor and 1080p video playback, while starting at 3G speeds that are upgradable to 4G. Further, the ad says it will have "more flexibility" with Honeycomb (Android 3.0), the Adobe Flash multimedia player, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera.

It concludes: "More Freedom... It's time to explore... It's time to live a free life." The ad signs off with Motorola's latest slogan: "Life M-powered" which uses the Motorola M logo and references to Xoom and Super Bowl 45.

With all those contrasts, the ad omits that the Xoom has 10.1-in. screen, slightly bigger than the iPad's 9.7-in. screen.

Xoom is scheduled to appear Feb. 17, according to leaked documents, and could be priced starting at $700. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha told investors last week that he anticipated a launch in February.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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