So Motorola’s new $800 baby comes with a little caveat: you can’t so much as turn on the WiFi radio without throwing down $20 for the first month’s data plan, ensuring that Verizon takes at least a little bit of the cut from the sale. While this is of course unofficial, it is worth noting that this policy is shared by the 7” Galaxy Tab on the same network.
Of course the first question in our heads is: how did this happen?
My deduction is as follows: Google is probably continuing the trend of requiring cellular modems in products that ship with the Google Apps package. This was the case for Android 1.x and 2.x, and while I had hoped this requirement would be dropped for the 3.x release, given the reliance on a wireless carrier here I’m assuming it hasn’t been. (On this point I would love to be proven wrong!)
Now, on the matter of retail distribution: Apple clearly stands above Motorola et al. Apple stores are everywhere, they’re well staffed and well stocked. It would be literally impossible for any third-party manufacturer to ship product in the way that Apple does. The only way they can hope to reach consumers in a situation where they’re unable to sell a WiFi only model is through wireless carriers. Wireless carriers will demand their margins in the only way they know how: selling service.
You can see what the carriers are thinking: an unsuspecting individual walks in, is very impressed by what they see, pick up the ($800) tab, throw down for the $20 service and never bother to cancel it because it’s just that convenient. Not to say this is a bad model, but I like to believe that people’s bullshit detectors are more finely tuned than this.
Honeycomb represents a big leap forward for Android, and the Xoom is the boat it sails in on. While I hope it performs better than its anemic 7” cousin, it’s policies like these that damage that possibility.