Motorola's Xoom Android tablet went on sale today, and I decided to buy one for Android development. Unfortunately, the buying experience was so bad that I ended up walking away. If you've shopped for or purchased an iPad, you know that buying one is an incredibly easy experience. You can purchase it online, in Apple's own stores, at Best Buy, AT&T and Verizon's own stores, and many other places. Verizon, however, has chosen to make the Xoom available only in stores, not online. So far as I know, it's only carried by Best Buy and Verizon's own stores. So, I visited a local Verizon store, and that's where the problems began.
You can buy a Xoom for $799 without a data plan, purchase a month-to-month data plan, or pay $599 with a two-year data plan. I simply wanted to pay the $799 price, but the salesperson kept trying to get me to buy a data plan. She finally had to call over her supervisor, who agreed to allow me to purchase the tablet without a data plan. Then, as the salesperson started to ring up the sale, she tried to sell me Verizon's home phone service (I live in AT&T's territory). Next, when she learned that I use an iPhone 4 and AT&T for my mobile service, she tried to get me to switch to Verizon. She offered to "buy back" my AT&T phone--but then, I'd have to pay AT&T's early cancellation fee, plus buy a new iPhone 4 phone from Verizon. By this time, I felt as though I was dealing with a pushy car salesperson.
I ended up leaving without purchasing the Xoom. It's very clear that Verizon doesn't want any Xooms to be sold without a data plan, or without selling some other ongoing phone service. If that's the case, they should simply sell it at the subsidized price and require the two-year data plan. It would be simpler for customers and easier for Verizon's salespeople. As much as I'd like a Honeycomb tablet, I'll upgrade to an iPad 2 first, and eventually add an Android tablet, with (I hope) much less hassle.