Motorola Mobility -- which is now owned by Google -- will soon release its existing Xoom tablet running Android 4.1, also known as Jelly Bean.
It's hard to read Google on how big that launch will be, but one would expect quite a bit of noise given that it will be Motorola's first tablet release under Google ownership.
Motorola and Google PR departments say Jelly Bean will be offered on Motorola's Xoom in the coming weeks. It has started rolling out and will be offered on the existing tablet hardware more generally soon, they say.
Let's be clear. Motorola's Droid not only put Android on the map in the smartphone space -- it paved the way for perhaps the most successful commercial open source project in history.
Android is Linux for the smartphone/tablet industry. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other Linux varients are huge in the server and embedded markets, but this incarnation of Linux for the tablet is huge. Xoom is more of a competitor to iPad 2 than the Nexus 7. So why is Google so seemingly cavalier about this coming tablet release?
Of course, Google wants to be careful not to ruffle the feathers of its tablet OEM partners as it considers how it proceeds forward with its new identity as a tablet manufacturer -- and competitor to those partners.
Sources also remind me this is the first official release of Xoom under Google ownership. The deal only closed in late May, after all.
So Google may be mum on this front to calm anxious OEMs and/or because it hasnt yet developed the next gen blueprint for Xoom.
Nevertheless, I think the next Xoom launch with Jelly Bean will be huge, considering the recent launch of Google Handwrite for better tablet search and especially the "Butter" performance and UI improvements that will hopefully make Android a far more compelling choice in the tablet market.
I've owned several Droids and basically like them, but am constantly frustrated by latency issues, performance problems and user interface shortcomings. It is simply not as seamless and elegant as Apple's iOS on the iPhone and iPad. For that reason, I have refrained from buying an Android-based tablet.
I, like many others, are awaiting a more mature Andoid experience -- like the one promised by Jelly Bean -- on a full featured tablet that not only crushes the Kindle but also goes nose to nose with the iPad2.
I am waiting for Xoom 2.X or 3. I realize Google will continue to promote its ecosystem of OEMs and developers (the new 4.1 SDK came out recently) fairly. And the availability of Android as an open source project naturally levels the playing field.
But I am awaiting the Xoom specifically -- not simply because Motorola Mobility is owned by Google. Motorola on its own is largely responsible for Andoid's smartphone success and hopefully (and especially) with Google ownership it will drive Android's success in the tablet market.
All is quiet out of Google and Motorola camps on that front -- for now. The next Xoom with Android 4.1 might just be pushed out soon with little fanfare, like the new Droids, while the next generation tablet is under development.
The future of Android rests on its success in the tablet market and it looks to be a two-horse race in this market as well. All OEM partners will have a shot at the Android 4.1 code. But make no mistake: lots of eyes and ears are focused on what's coming next ouf of this independent entity of Google on the tablet front.