Device operating systems

Verizon Lets Users Xoom for $600

Verizon Wireless will begin offering the Xoom, Motorola Mobility LLC 's Android 3.0 tablet, on Thursday for $599.99 on a two-year contract, or $799.99 without one. (See Verizon Offers $600 Xoom.) The tablet is coming to market only a week later than anticipated. (See Motorola Xooms Out Next Month and What About the Xoom?.)

The monthly contract includes Verizon's standard 3G data access fees starting at $20 per month for 1GB, $35 for 3GB, $50 for 5GB and $80 for 10GB. Verizon plans to upgrade the Xoom to Long Term Evolution (LTE) at no charge in the second quarter, but the companies didn't divulge what 4G data access will cost Xoom owners.

Best Buy also began taking pre-orders for the 3G Xoom over the weekend. The big-box retailer is asking $799 for the 3G version and requires a minimum one-month data activation to enable Wi-Fi on the tablet.

Why this matters
The Xoom is the first of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablets to be offered and could kick-start a category full of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad competitors that sport Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s made-for-tablets OS.

The Xoom will also be important both to Verizon, as it tries to get its customers to buy 4G devices, and to Moto Mobility, which saw 28 percent of revenue last year come from Verizon, according to Bloomberg.

If both companies are able to compete, however, it could come down to price. The Xoom is the first tablet that Verizon has agreed to subsidize, but its contract-free price tag makes it somewhat more expensive than the iPad, which it offers for $730 bundled with a Mi-Fi.

Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha defended the Xoom's price tag in Barcelona last week, noting that Moto's ability to deliver 50 Mbit/s and the fact that it's upgradable to LTE would justify the higher price. Jha hasn't disclosed what a Wi-Fi-only version of the Xoom will cost.

The Xoom, and other Android tablets, will also have Apple's next version of the iPad to contend with. Apple is holding an event on March 2 that could see the unveiling of the second-generation tablet.

For more
On the Xoom's specs:

On Xoom's competition:

On Verizon's plans for the device:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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