The launch of the first Android Honeycomb tablet is becoming a disaster, as Adobe runs damage control on the news that Motorola's Xoom tablet will ship without Flash support.
Although the Xoom is Flash-capable, an advertisement for the Android tablet on Verizon Wireless' website says Flash support is expected in spring 2011. The Xoom launches Thursday.
Adobe has clarified the disclaimer, saying that Flash 10.2 will be available as an over-the-air download "within a few weeks of Android 3 (Honeycomb) devices becoming available, the first of which is expected to be the Motorola Xoom."
The eventual arrival of Adobe Flash will be wonderful news for users who keep up with the latest tech news. But imagine launch day for the average user, who was expecting a tablet that could, at last, access the full Web. There will be frustrated calls to tech support. There will be potential impulse buyers who put off their purchase for another day -- or another tablet entirely. It has the potential to be a mess.
This isn't the first flaw in Motorola's Xoom launch strategy. In rushing to market, the Xoom will not include 4G service at first. Users will have to wait until sometime in the second quarter and then return their tablets to Verizon for a hardware update.
And then there's the pricing. Unlike some of my colleagues, I don't think $800 is outrageous, given the product. That's only $71 more than a 3G iPad with 32 GB of storage, and the Xoom supports a faster network (eventually) with better hardware. What Motorola is missing is an up-sell -- a cheaper product that at the very least lures potential buyers into the store. Supposedly, there's a $600 Wi-Fi-only tablet on the way, but Motorola hasn't announced a launch date.
So in keeping with tradition, the early adopters -- the ones who've been eagerly awaiting a suitable alternative to Apple's iPad -- are getting screwed. They'll pay a premium for an incomplete Honeycomb tablet while Motorola squanders its early mover advantage with a whimper of a launch. Everyone else should reevaluate the market once Motorola, Verizon and Adobe get their acts together.