With a 10.1 inch display, and running Google's Android 3.0 OS (aka Honeycomb), Motorola's newly unveiled tablet could be the product that convinces publishers to develop for tablets other than Apple's iPad.
Introduced with its wireless partner Verizon at CES yesterday, the Motorola XOOM will launch as a 3G/WiFi enabled device in sometime in Q1, while a 4G/WiFi version will release in Q21, according to the two companies.
"Light, powerful and fundamentally different than anything else on the market, Motorola XOOM leverages the very best technology available today to redefine what a tablet experience can be," Bill Ogle, chief marketing officer of Motorola Mobility, said in the product press release. "The first device to feature software designed specifically for tablets, Motorola XOOM goes everywhere you do and delivers everything you need."
The specs of the new tablet are impressive: a 3 meg front facing camera with a 5 meg rear-facing camera; built-in gyroscope, barometer, e-compass, accelerometer and adaptive lighting, and the ability to display Flash content. The tablet will support 1080p HD video and has an HDMI port for output to a HD TVs. Maybe just as importantly, the tablet will house a dual core processor, needed for running Honeycomb, the latest version of Google's Android operating system.
This week's CES announcements, particularly the bevy of tablet introductions, will bring it memories of last January's iPad introduction by Apple. But it is worth keeping in mind one thing: while there were many media critics who did (and some who still do) doubt the success of Apple's new tablet, there were few questions about the ability of developers to create and sell their apps for the new device -- the iTunes App Store was already well established, and launching an iPad App Store was always seen as an easy transition.
Sorting out the Android marketplace will be a major task in 2011 as manufacturers jump on the Android tablet bandwagon.
Update: A CNet video appears to show that the XOOM isn't really ready to be unveiled, with only demo videos on the tablet -- as opposed to allowing users to experience the tablet themselves as a finished product. This continues the trend of lots of tablet announcements, few actual tablet launches.
Yesterday Amazon announced that it had launched the Amazon Appstore Developer Portal (Amazon account sign-in required) which will allow developers to submit apps to a new Amazon Appstore for Android.
The new Amazon store will be much more like Apple's iTunes App Store than Google's Android Market. Google store allows developers to launch their app immediately without going through an approval process. While developers love this, and hence are huge promoters of Android, apps the number of junk apps that get through is much larger than in Apple's store where apps must get approved.
Amazon's store will resemble Apple's model of requiring apps to be approved -- no porn or illegal apps will supposedly get in.
Amazon's pricing policies, though, may cause some confusion, however. Developers will set a list price for their apps. Amazon then is free to discount the app to whatever price it wants to sell your app at. If the app is sold at full price you get 30 percent. If the app is discounted, the developer is guaranteed to receive no less than 20 percent of the list price.
This strategy will allow Amazon to discount apps and hence undercut the Android Market.
Will this approach and the launch of a new Android app market further fragment the Android side of the mobile market? Or will it continue to speed up the growth of Android overall? One thing for sure, users of Android phones won't appreciate having to update their apps through multiple app stores.
Then there is Apple . . . Apple's Mac App Store opens today -- at noon Eastern time to be exact, according to a post on The Loop website.
It will be interesting to see what apps will be available at the time of the launch. More than likely the apps available will be the usual suspects: iWork individual apps and the like. Can the Mac App Store entice developers to develop desktop equivalents of their tablet media apps? (My guess is "no", but we'll see.)
Update: This Morning Brief was written late last night as you can tell, as both the top and bottom story are already a bit out of date.
The Mac App Store is already live. Mac users will need to install an OS update, after that they will be able to access the new app store. Updating now.