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

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

Several analysts have described disappointing early sales for Motorola's Xoom tablet and Atrix smartphone, both based on the Android operating system.

Verizon Wireless, however, which sells the Xoom, issued a statement to Computerworld on Thursday in response to analyst concerns, saying: "We are pleased with customer response to the Xoom." Verizon almost never reveals sales figures and did not this time either.

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 also didn't reveal sales figures. Motorola Mobility, which makes both devices, did not respond to a request to comment.

Perhaps Verizon's interpretation doesn't depend so much on how Xoom sales are doing when compared to the first-generation iPad tablet, which sold 300,000 its first weekend. 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 its Feb. 24 launch. That calculation was based on Android usage patterns compiled by developers who noted that the Android 3.0 OS, 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 3GS and the HTC Inspire. Sales of both the Atrix and the Xoom "have been disappointing," Faucette added. His description led Fortune to run a headline with Eric Savitz' blog quoting the analyst that said, "Xoom, Atrix Both Duds."

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 is 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 or the other device.

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

Some tech bloggers, such as Adrian Kingsley-Hughes noted that sales reports by analysts are early and held off judgment .

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

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Topic Center.

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