Motorola Xoom Sales Follow Android Phone Pattern

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Motorola has only shipped 250,000 Xoom tablets since its launch, but that’s a decent start for Android Honeycomb, says Clint Boulton

Motorola Mobility announced first quarter earnings of $3 billion (£1.8bn) on 28 April, up 22 percent from the first quarter of 2010.

The company said it shipped 4.1 million Android handsets and 250,000 Motorola Xoom Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablets.

The Xoom numbers pale in comparison to the 4.7 million iPads Apple sold in its first quarter, but must seem great to those who bought Global Equities analyst Trip Chowdry’s claim that consumers purchased only 25,000 to 120,000 Xoom units.

Tablet market mirroring smartphones

Of course, Motorola’s quote is only a shipment total to retailers, not a sell-through to customers, so who knows how many people bought the tablet, which is pretty darn good despite the naysaying.

What Motorola has proven is that it’s hard to be first and have middling success, but it shouldn’t despair. Consider this: Verizon told me it was “pretty pleased” with its Xoom sales so if it’s making the carrier happy, that’s a very good thing.

Is Verizon privately stewing over Xoom sales? Could be. I can only go by what they tell me, but here is how I see the Android tablet market shaping up: a lot like the Android smartphone market.

Consider that Verizon has sold 260,000 HTC Thunderbolt 4G LTE Android smartphones since 17 March, or 10,000 more than the Xoom.

When you take into account there are over 100 Android phones in the US market alone, that’s a great number for one Android phone.

Android winning in volume

Of course, most Android phones won’t sell 60,000 let alone 260,000 units, but you get the idea. Android, with 37 percent US market share to iPhone’s 27 percent, is succeeding on sheer volume.

Android’s kung-fu is strong and I believe some of that success will trickle down into the tablet market with the LG Slate, Sony tablets and other Honeycomb slates coming to the fore.

I say this with the full realisation that the market for smartphones is much bigger than it is for tablets, which will be doing great if it hits 100 million in the next couple years.

However, not everyone wants an iPad. Maybe most do now, but that will change over time. Gartner expects Android to command 40 percent of the tablet market by 2015, up from 20 percent through this year.

In the short term, Honeycomb will get better and the Android apps will get better over time. It doesn’t have to beat iPad; it just has to be a credible alternative. And I believe it is that, despite the tepid reaction to the Xoom.

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