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Motorola Introduces the Xoom, Its Answer to the iPad

“So far for Android, we’ve seen handset operating systems meant for phones running on tablets,” said Sanjay Jha, chief executive of Motorola Mobility, in an interview before the event. “This was an operating system built for a tablet from the ground up.” (As of Tuesday, Motorola split itself into two companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions, which is focused on business customers.)

Motorola also demonstrated the Atrix 4G, a fast Android smartphone that can be attached to a “laptop dock” and display its content on the larger screen. The Atrix will be released on the AT&T network in the first quarter. Two other Android smartphones shared the stage: the Cliq 2 and the Droid Bionic.

Mr. Jha said the Xoom would become available in the first quarter of 2011 but did not say how much it would cost. At first, the tablet will run on Verizon’s 3G wireless network, although Mr. Jha said it was also compatible with Verizon’s faster 4G network.

The device is the first of several tablet computers that are expected to be introduced during the electronics show, the industry’s largest. Microsoft, Lenovo, Research in Motion and Hewlett-Packard are expected to unveil tablets, and several other companies, including LG and Lenovo, have either hinted at their devices or displayed them already.

All are hoping to compete with Apple’s popular iPad, which has sold close to 7.5 million units worldwide since it was released in April.

Mr. Jha said the company was hoping to capture a slice of the pent-up demand for tablet computers with the Xoom and several other tablets that will be introduced later this year. Analysts expect demand for the mobile computers to soar this year. The research firm IDC expects 42 million tablet devices to sell globally in 2011.

The news of the Xoom comes on the heels of Motorola’s split into two separate companies. Motorola Mobility will focus on consumer products such as cellphones and cable boxes, while Motorola Solutions will sell professional equipment to large companies.

The split, as well as the introduction of the Xoom, are all part of Motorola’s larger effort to reverse its sagging fortunes and pull itself out of a prolonged slump.

An early cellphone innovator that watched as more nimble competitors won fans with flashier and more functional smartphones, Motorola has been working to right itself by designing products that catch the eye of consumers.

The company’s efforts seem to be paying off. Its tight-knit alliance with Google and early adoption of Android has helped nudge Motorola’s profits skyward. In the last six months, Android devices accounted for 40 percent of all smartphones bought in the United States, according to Nielsen.

“It’s a hell of a migration over the past two years,” Mr. Jha said.

Motorola Mobility is hoping that its Xoom will further propel the company’s turnaround, much as its collaboration with Google and Verizon on the Droid, a slim, angular smartphone that competed with the iPhone, helped improve its reputation and financials.

“At one time people were calling for the death of Motorola,” said James Brehm, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Now look at them. People can’t wait to see what’s next.”


SOURCE: NY TIMES Images Credit: Mororola Media Centre

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