the Xoom, one step forward, two steps back

xoom_testToday Microsoft announced the end-of-the-line for the Zune, a piece of hardware that, at one time, Microsoft’s CEO Steve “Monkey” Ballmer claimed was the “iPod killer,” if ever there was hyperbole. In the tech industry if you want to know when a company is swinging at air or that a product has a slim to nil chance of knocking off it’s competition but in vain looks for some press or PR that it has something good, white is potentially just shite, use “[insert device here] killer.”

Recently Motorola and Android came out with their much ballyhooed [ahem] “iPad killer,” the Xoom. Those ooohs and ahhhs you hear is people attaching the fact Google is behind the OS may serve to distract you that Google hasn’t exactly been hitting entirely home runs lately, there was Wave, Buzz, and even a debacle of their own smart phone Nexus One. Nexus One pitted Google’s newly acquired status as a lumbering threat to competitors at odds with the smart phone hardware and service provider market, many who were using Google’s Android OS gladly on various manufacture’s hardware. Suddenly Google had both it’s OS AND it’s hardware in one device and wanted to come out dominating, only to come out lagging, after all, if you owned the roads and sold cars that ran on gas, and then the gas company came out with it’s own car that ran in it’s own gas and touted it’d be the end of other cars, would you let it use this gas company’s car use the roads, and wouldn’t you think twice about using their gas ever again? Most carriers turned on Google suddenly being a competitor, they did so behind closed doors, some started to switch from Google’s Android to start pushing their Blackberry and Windows Mobile Devices. Google learning the hard way, you have to play nice with the competition when they own the network. It served to prove Google maybe doesn’t know much about how it’s own industry works, there’s a reason Microsoft never en mass started making it’s own PCs, and why Apple smartly yanked it’s OS license to clones in the 90s, it doesn’t serve a greater purpose to always own your own ecosystem, history has taught us that.

Perhaps that’s why Google teamed up with Motorola rather than claim it’s own hardware, or they felt sorry for beleaguered Motorola [editors note: I’ve done work for Motorola, I am rooting for them in some plane of existence], rather than make it’s own hardware. Google will make a great OS, called Honeycomb, and great software to go on said device, and Motorola will make the great hardware. Perfect, right? Well, not exactly. It’s pretty good hardware though the new iPad 2 pretty well spanks the new Xoom in every speed test, early adopters have been essentially beta testers for the Xoom (which every time I mentally say it sounds like the Zune, which failed, omen?), it’s been a buggy, problem riddled piece of hardware. To top this off, and not sure it’s even related due to sales going to a type of rabid anti-Apple fan base who forgo quality to just not buy Apple, Xoom’s sales have been sluggish at best.

As I write this on the ides of March; et tu Colin? Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Xoom, not to praise him. As I’m all railing for the use of web standards, that things should be written to work on all devices well and be compliant and scalable, should just run, not hog system resources and should not need plug ins (i.e. Flash must die!), you would think, especially if you’re Google, you’d know better; and you’d be wrong. Tests show Xoom can’t properly render the most scalable, workable version web underpinnings yet in HTML 5, can’t play videos properly, or display animations or properly execute Javascript. In short, Xoom can’t properly handle the web in 2011, and it’s a supposedly future-going product. Worse, Xoom put through the paces, can’t even properly render HTML 4 (that standard was set in 1999).

Sure not all tech comes out perfect, it’s all about evolution anyways, that keeps most people somewhat happy, new buyers, stockholders, tech pundits who like to rave or rail on product, mostly everyone. Unless of course you come out with a new tech gadget and release it before prime time just in order to capitalize on a wave [ha, a pun] of some technology bandwagon, hoping for the best that it’ll keep on selling after some rapid fanbase takes the plunge and hope for a return on investment. Perhaps the reason Apple has done so well isn’t because it’s making industry leading decisions, creating decent wide-demographic-swatch user-based sets of products as it has for decades, but rather, it’s never gone on the record to say this-or-that item as a [insert product] killer.