February 25, 2011 | by Michael Heller
When Motorola announced the Xoom, they said that everyone would get a free upgrade to 4G in Q2. They said, you’ll just have to bring your Xoom to the Verizon store, and they’ll do the upgrade for you. Then, Verizon revealed the 4G upgrade plan which states, “You will be without your device for approximately six business days from the time you ship your Xoom to Motorola.” Today, iFixit did their regular teardown and told Ars Technica in an e-mail, “A seasoned technician can perform this swap in less than 10 minutes. Heck, a donkey could probably pull it off in less than two hours.”
Motorola obviously designed the Xoom with this upgrade in mind, because the process itself is quite streamlined. iFixit says the whole job can be done in 3 steps, which amounts to removing a total of 4 screws, disconnecting the antenna, then swapping out the circuit board with the 4G capable board. iFixit gave the Xoom a very high repairability score of 8 out of 10 (10 being easiest to repair), so the current policy doesn’t make a lot of sense. With such an easy swap, why is Motorola requiring that you mail in your Xoom to a repair center?
Forgive me for answering my own leading title question, but I don’t think that this will cause a PR fiasco, but it should. I’m not sure it’ll even generate much of an outcry, but that’s not because of the issue itself, that’s more because I’m not sure how many 3G Xoom owners there will be to make a fuss. The Xoom is a nice tablet, but the cost will certainly keep a lot of people away. Regardless, this is a silly problem that Motorola is setting itself up with. Even staffing a fraction of Verizon stores with technicians for a limited window would be a better option. If people can’t make it during that window, they can still send in their tablet if they want, but everyone else doesn’t have to wait 6 days for a 10 minute procedure.