Is Motorola planning a customizable tablet based on the Moto X?


Since the Moto X was officially announced last week, there have been some unanswered questions floating about.

What about international availability? Will there be a Google Play edition Moto X? Why is it priced so inappropriately? And what about a tablet version of the Moto X?

Unfortunately, we don’t have direct answers to any of those questions. We know the Moto X will not make its way to the UK. However, an international model is in the making and Motorola has something special up its sleeve for the UK. Rumors allege a Google Play edition Moto X will happen as well. And why wouldn’t it? Why wouldn’t Google want to sell its own hardware in its online store? And, if Google and Motorola do offer a Google Play edition Moto X, there’s reason to believe it could be sold for much cheaper. (There’s also reason to suspect it won’t, so that’s speculation, at best.)

The tablet topic is something quite intriguing, though.

Hardware Comparison: Nexus 10 vs. Nexus 7 vs. Motorola Xoom

The XOOM was practically an unofficial Nexus.

Motorola, to date, has been a company quite invested in the tablet sector. It was the first to release a pure stock Android tablet running Honeycomb, the XOOM – an unofficial Nexus, so to speak. It later followed-up with the XOOM 2, also know as the Xyboard here in the States.

No, none of these tablets were wildly successful, at least in comparison to Samsung’s Tab series, the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, or especially the various iPad models. But Motorola has released serious competitors in the tablet space for the last two years. The question is: if the new and improved Motorola is pushing forward with a bold statement in the smartphone industry, will it also try the same in the cutthroat tablet market? Will there be a Moto X tablet, or something to that effect?

The two sides of the debate couldn’t contradict one another more.

Back in December, The Wall Street Journal reported that both Google and Motorola were working on next-gen devices, the alleged and highly-rumored “X Phone” (also XFON) that turned out to be today’s Moto X and an accompanying tablet, then appropriately rumored as the X Tablet. Considering half of that report panned out, we’re left wondering where the second half is.

Cory Gunther of Android Community believes the next logical step for Motorola is to release the X Tablet. Development for the alleged tablet reportedly began in December, meaning it could very well be on the horizon. “If we had to guess, a Moto X Tablet is coming extremely soon,” says Gunther.


At least half of The Wall Street Journal’s report was true. What about the other half?

However, back in May after his on-stage appearance at D11, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside told AllThingsD the company is “pulling back from tablets,” notes Ina Fried.

Woodside also told AllThigsD, “A lot of what we know isn’t as important in the tablet … For now we haven’t been focused on that. That may change.”

Taking those statements at face value, if Motorola hasn’t been focusing its efforts on a tablet all this time, there’s no reason to suspect anything of the sort in the near future. It would make sense that a company focusing on a rebirth would put its efforts into the four recent devices that were announced – Moto X, Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx, and Droid Mini – and not spread its manpower too thin. After all, it did layoff quite a few employees.


How practical is a hardware-customizable tablet?

For the more open-minded and imaginative, you may take Woodside’s statements with a grain of salt, as a cover for something much bigger the company is working on. And, note that these statements were made in late May. This is the mobile industry, where some things change overnight. The welcomed reception of the Nexus 7 could have fired a new passion in Motorola’s penchant for tablets.

We don’t know any of this for sure. And trying to draw a conclusion on something as vague as this would only prove futile, at best. That said, we can account for some things that might put it into a better perspective.

Motorola is offering two major innovations with the Moto X: customizable hardware and Touchless Control. Manufacturing and distribution are much different in the tablet sector. You can cell Wi-Fi only models and not have to worry about carrier relationships, and Motorola sits in the back pocket of a company’s increasingly popular digital store, Google Play.

The second half of that X factor is price. Expensive tablets – unless you’re Apple, and the last time I checked, Motorola is not – do not move easily. Most of the popular Android tablets to date have been competitively priced. The Moto X, with all its included features, is viewed as being overpriced, and I imagine by-hand assembly within the United States has something to do with the premium associated with what would otherwise be a modest smartphone. To offer the same level of customization on a tablet, Motorola would again have to sacrifice the affordability of the so-called X Tablet for a feature it’s not even certain will be a hit. Price is undeniably the reason the Xyboard and original XOOM weren’t widely adopted. And, there’s another tidbit. AT&T has exclusive use of Moto Maker, the online customization store until November. Whether that’s a blanket exclusivity for all mobile devices or just the Moto X isn’t clear.

I know, this is a lot of information speculation, so bear with me.

Finally, Touchless Control. At least to me, the feature has tons of appeal for smartphones. You carry a smartphone with you practically everywhere you go. For a handful of reasons, this sort of Touchless Control isn’t as appealing on a device that doesn’t fit in your pocket. It’s still a useful feature, but not nearly as warranted on a secondary device.

That being the case, would it not make more sense for Motorola to test the waters with a necessary device before potentially wasting valuable time and money on a type of device that, historically, hasn’t performed well for the company? Mind you, I’m not saying Motorola won’t make the X Tablet or Tab X … or whatever it will be called. But take heed of Woodside’s words. “For now, we haven’t been focused on that yet. That may change.”

Sounds to me like the man is wise and, rather than going all-in early in the game, he’s getting a feel for the market’s reaction to the Moto X. What do you think, readers? Is a Moto X-style tablet just over the horizon? Or is Motorola playing it safe?

I’ll leave you with one thought: a wooden tablet …

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About The Author
Taylor Martin
Based out of Charlotte, NC, Taylor Martin started writing about technology in 2009 while working in wireless retail. He has used BlackBerry off and on for over seven years, Android for nearly four years, iOS for three years, and has experimented with both webOS and Windows Phone. Taylor has reviewed countless smartphones and tablets, and doesn't go anywhere without a couple gadgets in his pockets or "nerd bag." In his free time, Taylor enjoys playing disc golf with friends, rock climbing, and playing video games. He also enjoys the occasional hockey game, and would do unspeakable things for some salmon nigiri. For more on Taylor Martin, checkout his Pocketnow Insider edition. | Google+