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Verizon, AT&T 'pleased' with Xoom, Atrix, despite analyst concerns

Sales of Motorola Atrix smartphone and Xoom tablet disappointing, one analyst says

April 7, 2011 12:18 PM ET

Computerworld - Several analysts have described early sales of Motorola's new Android-based devices, the Xoom tablet and the Atrix smartphone, as disappointing.

Verizon Wireless, which sells the Xoom, on Thursday responded to questions about analysts' concerns by issuing a statement to Computerworld in which it said, "We are pleased with customer response to the Xoom." Verizon almost never reveals sales figures and did not do so this time.

AT&T, which sells the Atrix smartphone, reacted to the critical analyst reports by saying in an email: "Our customers are very satisfied with the Atrix, and we are equally as pleased with the results to date." AT&T didn't reveal sales figures either. Motorola Mobility, which makes both devices, did not respond to a request to comment.

Perhaps Verizon isn't worried about comparisons of Xoom sales to sales of Apple's iPad tablet; the first-generation iPad sold 300,000 units its first weekend, and the iPad 2 reportedly sold 1 million units in its opening weekend.

A Deutsche Bank analyst recently calculated that 100,000 Xoom tablets have been sold since the device's Feb. 24 launch. That calculation was based on Android usage patterns compiled by developers who noted that the Android 3.0 operating system, also known as Honeycomb, runs only on Xoom and has a user share of 0.2% -- roughly equivalent to 100,000 units.

Separately, the Atrix smartphone from Motorola, which plugs into a laptop-like dock, has sold "well below forecast," according to James Faucette, a Pacific Crest analyst. He noted the Atrix had been hurt by lower prices for the Apple iPhone 3GS and the HTC Inspire. Sales of both the Atrix and the Xoom "have been disappointing," Faucette added. His description led Fortune to use the headline "Xoom, Atrix Both Duds" with an Eric Savitz blog post that quoted Faucette.

Verizon and AT&T could easily be pleased with Xoom's sales, since the carriers view one tablet or smartphone device as part of an entire inventory of many devices, analysts noted. For customers of Verizon and other retailers, it's easy to compare the Xoom with the iPad 2 right in a store, so if customers don't like one tablet, they might buy the other. Either way, the store or the carrier wins because the customer buys one device or the other.

Another interpretation of Verizon's and AT&T's positive comments on the Xoom and the Atrix, analysts added, is that the carriers had set low sales expectations for the devices.

Some tech bloggers, such as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, withheld judgment, saying it's too early to draw definitive conclusions from analysts' sales estimates.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at Twitter @matthamblen, or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about Mobile/Wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.



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