Is This the iPad Killer?

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An old friend is back as Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) foe.

Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI-WI  ) -- yes, that's the new ticker since M-O-T split into two companies this week -- introduced its XOOM tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday.

As the first device running Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) tablet-centric Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, Motorola isn't simply resting on its laurels as the first mover. The XOOM specs are pretty darn impressive:

  • The 10.1-inch screen supports HD video at 1080p with an HDMI output for larger screens.
  • It is powered by a dual core processor, combing a pair of 1 gigahertz cores.
  • There's a front-facing camera and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera that shoots high-def video (in 720p).
  • Unlike Apple's iOS gadgetry, XOOM supports Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE  ) Flash.
  • Built-in gyroscope? Barometer? E-compass? Accelerometer? Adaptive lighting? Connectivity to Verizon's (NYSE: VZ  ) popular wireless network? Yes on all counts.

In short, the first Honeycomb tablet's got big, big taste in a big, big bite.

Friendlier times
Apple and Motorola were chummy in the 1990s, as two-thirds of the PowerPC triumvirate that powered Macs until Apple broke up the band in 2005, hooking up with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) for its microprocessor needs.

Coming out with an iPad killer would taste like sweet revenge for Motorola.

It's already taking its shots.

In a clever promotional video released a few weeks ago, a camera pans through a museum with famous tablets over the years including Moses' 10 commandments and the Rosetta Stone on display. Every tablet is captioned with a benefit, but its glaring weakness is also pointed out.

The camera then pans to the iPad.

"It's like a giant iPhone, but ... it's like a giant iPhone."

Nice shot, but the ad doesn't end there. Motorola even takes aim at its Android buddy, Google, since the next museum case displays the Samsung Galaxy Tab that turned heads when it sold a million units in its first two months on the market.

"Android OS, but Android OS ... for a phone."

The museum teaser finally pans to a draped tablet with the Motorola logo at the base.

Well, the XOOM is draped no more.

It won't be easy
Motorola's XOOM will hit the market later this quarter through Verizon as a 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled tablet. It will be available on Verizon's new 4G LTE network next quarter. This means that it should beat Apple's iPad 2 to the market if Apple waits until the early April anniversary of its original tablet to roll out its successor.

Motorola didn't reveal pricing, or if Verizon will be subsidizing a good chunk of the price in exchange for two-year contract commitments. Tablet fans who don't want to spring for a data plan may also out of luck, since Motorola isn't detailing when a Wi-Fi-only version will hit the market.

However, in a week that will be loaded with more tablets than an aspirin bottle, it may be hard to top Motorola's bold entry. Several weeks ago, it seemed as if Research in Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) PlayBook would have the best shot at eating into Apple's early lead in this rapidly developing niche among the 2011 debutantes.

There's a real battle breaking out. Apple better not take its early lead lightly.

Google and Intel are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Adobe Systems are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool has written puts on Apple. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Adobe Systems. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has an original iPad, but he may be tempted to stray this year. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (10)

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  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:33 PM, DefunctAcct wrote:

    Comparing a late model with first gen iPad is not very useful.

    This "killer" idea is for teenagers. Investors know there are no such things as "killer".

    iPad will get its share of competition and Apple has to step up and keep competing like everyone else. All the hardware specifications are similar, all the chips, parts and designs ("borrowed" from iPad) are similar. The difference is in the software and the ecosystem and connectivity to other devices (Mac, PC, iPhone, Droid, etc).

    For now, Apple has full control over its own software and hardware integration so it can evolve faster and adapt faster. We will see if it can continue to do so effectively.

    Let the competition begin.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:43 PM, dynazor wrote:

    Wow! Someone's actually got the balls to use the "killer" word again. Notice I said balls, not brains. Lately, after getting burned so badly so many times when they used the 'i-whatever killer' expression, they've all resorted to using the 'i-whatever rival' expression rather than killer.

    In any event, we all know that Motorola wants you to say "Zoom" (sounds so eerily like "Zune", doesn't it?) when you read XOOM. But we also all know that the numbnuts that will buy the XOOM will call it the X-oom, i.e. "exhume". How appropriate that Motorola named their device (er, killer) after a verb that means to dig up the dead, the dead usually being in that condition long before they had a chance to really live, lest they would have never had to be dug up in the first place. So Motorola announced its product's birth, death, epihtat, and exhumation to find out what went wrong with it, before they ever even delivered one production piece. Way to go MOT, or MMI-WI if you prefer. That's the way to cut out all the silly in-betweens like selling product, and cutting right to the chase, just like Ralph Kramden who said "I plan on going straight on, forge ahead, to the $99,000 answer", but in this case it's MMI-WI going straight on, forging ahead, to the $999,000,000 debacle"

    Yeah, 'killer' indeed!

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:44 PM, sawalker1 wrote:

    Any reasonable comparison would have to include the MSRP.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:46 PM, dynazor wrote:

    BTW silivalley, my comments re balls v. brains were not aimed ay you, but rather the author of this article. I didn't see your post (a good one I might add) until I posted mine.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 7:46 PM, Oldfool103 wrote:

    See, I thought the iPad killer was going to be iPad2. Silly me, it's MOTO.

    (As far as your poll, I have the Pad1, so I won't be buying any this year. Funny, that wasn't even a choice..)

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 8:22 PM, marv08 wrote:

    Well, a minor correction: the DEVICE supports 1080p HD video, the screen does not, because it is impossible (you can't display 1920x1280 pixels on a screen with less pixels)... viewing on the device will downscale the video accordingly.

    But I guess that is symptomatic for people reviewing technology based on spec-sheets... they do not get it. There have been feature-laden Windows tablets for over a decade now, almost nobody wanted them. If Android 3 will bring great (enough) usability will be the deciding question. You can't find that on a press release.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2011, at 8:58 PM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    Apart from a barometer, that's pretty much the spec of last years iPhone.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2011, at 12:24 AM, mattsmithsd wrote:

    I am glad to see the competition and the new addons coming to this market, but cmon, Apple products have become a Fad and people are going to stick with it.

    I will be comparing these tablets when they come out. But I am still pretty firm on using my laptop instead of these things.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2011, at 1:58 AM, weilee17600 wrote:

    iPAD sucks. It hurts my finger tips.

    iPAD slow and cannot do much like Netbook.

    It is not better than Netbook, and does not come close to Laptop.

    What a waste of $$$$.

  • Report this Comment On January 10, 2011, at 12:16 PM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    One more feature to add to your list.

    Not yet available.

    That's another feature the iPad lacks.

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2011, at 4:54 PM, tomd728 wrote:

    So where is the buy on this......VZ ?



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