Motorola Xoom tablet almost rivals iPad

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It’s an old pattern by now. Phase 1: Apple introduces some new gadget. The bloggers and the industry tell us why it’ll fail. Phase 2: It goes on sale. The public goes nuts for it. Phase 3: Every company and its brother gets to work on a copycat.

It happened with the iMac and the iPhone. Now the iPad is entering Phase 3. Apple sold 15 million iPads in nine months, so you can bet that 2011 will be the Year of the iPad Clone.

Starting Thursday, you’ll be able to buy one of the most eagerly awaited iPad rivals: the Motorola Xoom. Like most iPad aspirants, this one runs Google’s Android software — but the Xoom is the first that runs Android 3.0 (code-named Honeycomb), which Google designed for tablets instead of phones.

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