When the original iPad launched, there was a great deal of skepticism regarding it's viability--was the world ready for tablet computing? Clearly, Apple has been proven right in that matter, laughing all the way to the bank. And the reviews and early sales of iPad 2 suggest even more dominance on the horizon. But a pair of news items this week related to Android tablets has me wondering if Google can carve out a piece of that market.

WiFi-Only Motorola Xoom

One of the biggest criticisms about the Motorola Xoom--particularly from the Apple-loving crowd--was its price. A whopping $799--nearly as much as the highest-end iPad version--puts the device out of the range of a large number of consumers. But that was just the 3G version, apparently.

Android Tablets Make Waves, But Is It Too Late To Catch iPad? xoom2 300x274 This week, Motorola has announced that a new WiFi-only version of the Xoom will go on sale March 27 for the low price of $599. Where the 3G version requires a monthly fee and contract with a service provider, the WiFi only does not. As long as users can find a WiFi connection, they and their Xoom will be free from monthly fees.

This Wi-Fi-only Xoom is of the 32GB variety, so it immediately puts the pricing structure almost right in line with what iPad is doing--$599 for a WiFi-only at 32GB, $829 for their top-of-the-line 3G model, making it only $30 more expensive than the top-line Xoom. There is also a 16GB Wifi-only version of the iPad 2 that is just $499.

The Xoom runs the latest Android version--Honeycomb--and has access to a cloud-based video editor. It also has a camera that can take 5mp still shots and records video at 720. It is as close to an iPad competitor as we've seen. A WiFi-only version is a fantastic idea, and will surely lure in some prospective buyers that weren't going to bite at the $899 price point.

8.9-Inch Samsung Galaxy Tab?

Samsung wants you to remember that they make Android tablets too--like the Galaxy. And a new teaser video released by the company this week suggests a new Galaxy version may be released soon--with speculation that it will have an 8.9-inch screen (the original Galaxy tablet has a 7-inch screen).

Here's the teaser video--don't blink, or you'll miss it:

Android Tablets Make Waves, But Is It Too Late To Catch iPad? galaxy2 300x399 The new tablet is rumored to run Honeycomb--the latest Android version sported by the Motorola Xoom. That tagline at the end--78910--is thought to represent the eventual full line of Galaxy tablet screen sizes: 7 inches, 8.9 inches, and 10 inches. But all of this is pretty much blind speculation until March 22, when Samsung hosts their Mobile Unpacked event in Orlando.

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If there is a new Galaxy tab coming soon, and it's running Honeycomb, that means it would have the same access Xoom has to the new cloud-based video editing app from Google, called Movie Studio--which should make it more appealing to our readers for sure.

Tablets Repeating Mobile Trends?

Most people didn't think Android had a chance to carve out a decent share of the mobile operating system market, considering the huge lead Apple had created for itself with the groundbreaking iPhone. And yet Android Tablets Make Waves, But Is It Too Late To Catch iPad? android1 300x225 here we sit in early 2011, with Android as the number one mobile operating system. Some of the credit has to go to Verizon, who pumped serious cash into their Droid marketing campaign.

So the real question is, can Android do it again in the tablet world? Again we have Apple far out in the lead... again because of their innovation. Will Motorola support the Xoom (or Samsung support the Galaxy) the way Verizon promoted the Droid?

The near future--the next year or so--looks pretty bright for iPad 2, and I doubt any competitor will come close anytime soon. But in the long term? I wouldn't bet against Android's ability to catch up eventually, if only because of the wider variety of devices on which their software will be running.

Takeaways For Video Marketers

Both the iPad 2 and the Xoom make tablets appealing for video marketing. Both can shoot and edit video. Both can upload video instantly and directly. And both are pretty darn affordable. Each has its own limitations, and tablets aren't going to be the main video production device for most of you for a long time to come. But they're packing real power, and are growing more versatile by the day.

It won't be long before the still and video quality with tablets can compete with the best of the consumer products. Not every video creator will want to shoot and edit on a tablet, for certain. But won't it be nice to know we have the option if we want it?

Most importantly, I need you to all tell Mark in the comments that he needs to buy me one of these things (preferably a Xoom) you know, for science.

  • dtechba

    Apple has a loyal fan base that avidly buys their products. As long as they keep cranking out new or updated products they have someone to sell them to, hence the reason for the IPad 2 that had another article questioned the reasoning for its production. These fans will gladly pay Apple's high prices because they want to be associated with Apple but they need to have a constant stream of new products to keep them buying. However, this base is limited and that can be seen by the fact you can buy an IPad just about anywhere. However, getting a good Android tablet that isn't overpriced like the Zoom or Galaxy can be difficult. We just bought a gTablet and the manager at Office Depot said they flew off the shelves. Other stores didn't have them or any equivelant tablet of any brand. We got the display model and were glad to get it. The tablet will end up being just like the IPhone because Apple price points just don't address the mass market and their high R&D requirements do not allow them to price cheaper.

    • Steven G

      Have you even looked at Apple's pricing matrix on the iPad2? They currently are the price leader, with a $499 offering. You repeatedly mention Apple's high pricing, but clearly you are talking about computers and mobile phones because this is the first Android (or any other OS) tablet that has matched Apple for pricing for any of its configurations since the iPad launched a year ago. Up to this point non-iPad tablet buyers have been the ones paying a premium for an inferior product. And in the case of the Xoom, the reviews range from nearly as good as the original iPad to Engadget's: "there isn't much here for consumers right now. The Android Market is almost devoid of tablet applications, the OS feels buggy and unfinished, and the hardware has pain points that we find troubling." How is a $599 Xoom better at addressing the mass market than a $499 iPad2? Given the market penetration of the first iPad and the current lines for the iPad2 at stores a week after the launch and 5-6 week shipping on orders placed online today, saying the iPad does not appeal to the mass market is just wishful thinking.

      • dtechba

        My wife's gTab was $349, the one I have on backorder is $279. So yes, I stand by my comment on high pricing. The people I know who are buying an IPad 2 already have an IPad. The lines have already died down for the IPad 2. Nowhere near a mass market. There are actually MORE apps for the the Androids these days and Apple's tight grip on their app market is actually a weakness of theirs dating back to the days of their founding (btw, this is also a weakness cited by many analysts). Android will grow through open sourcing Apple will shrivel through rigid control. Your entire premise is false and the usual Apple fan rhetoric. Next!!!

  • sanapala

    It's not too late when compared to catching up with iPhone.

  • Jarisha

    The iPad 2's camera is 0.7 mega pixals! That's insulting.

    • JeremyScott

      Yeah, maybe. The video quality is better than that, but for still shots... the iPad 2 is not the way to go.