The second tablet to receive the long awaited Android 4.0 update will be Motorola’s Xoom Wi-Fi tablet, with the update being pushed out as an OTA update.
The update pushes the software version to IML77 and takes full advantage of the new operating system, being that the Xoom was the reference device for the previous Android version in Android Honeycomb. The update is also notable for being available pre-rooted for those looking to maintain such access for maximum customization options and functionality not yet available officially on stock Android 4.0 or as the gateway to custom ROMs. of which many are also available.
While this update does signal that life does remain in the original Motorola Xoom, what is not yet known is whether the same updates will be provided to the LTE version of the tablet.
When the tablet was initially announced last January, the hardware and sales copy indicated compatibility with Verizon’s then new LTE network, but the actual tablet was not capable of accessing the then new network at its launch in February. The initial plan was for Verizon to launch the Xoom LTE without the LTE hardware in order to avoid lengthy delays while Motorola prepared the LTE modules for a late Spring/early Summer 2011 launch.
However, additional delays in LTE hardware production ironically forced more delays on the intended free upgrade program past the initial timeframe, to the point that Verizon was forced to relaunch the tablet in October of 2011 with the LTE hardware included in order to drive already slow sales, while the upgrade program for those that bought the Xoom LTE at launch wasn’t completed until later that month, almost six months after its original upgrade timeframe was first announced.
Now with the availability of the Droid Xyboard/Xoom 2 in Verizon’s lineup, it remains to be seen whether the carrier will bother updating the Xoom LTE, as they can be easily found on the myriad of deal-a-day websites for an average of 30-40% off of their MSRP while Verizon slowly moves away from supporting the tablet in favor of newer tablets.
Of course, this also raises the question of what kind of carrier support can be expected for tablets in general, as T-Mobile abandoned support for its version of the Dell Streak 7 due to low sales while Dell continuously updated its Wi-Fi only versions.
With carriers continuously releasing Android tablets in order to compete in the marketplace with more power and more features at the expense of low overall sales and lower consumer awareness, long-term support means the difference between having a satisfied customer base that would be willing to buy more from that carrier and having people completely skip over an entire product line.
Unfortunately, with the compressed development and release cycles that have become the norm for Android smartphones and tablets, having timely consistent updates being made available for older devices are now a much lower priority for carriers than developing and selling new devices with new features, as evidenced by the launch of the Droid Xyboard series shortly after the relaunch of the Xoom 4G, despite the Xyboard 10.1 and Xoom 4G being priced identically.