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Motorola's Xoom 3G contract may resemble iPad's

The Motorola Xoom tablet 3G contract structure may be similar to that of the iPad 3G, if Verizon continues its current pricing scheme for tablets.

The upcoming Motorola Xoom tablet may be offered with a 3G contract similar to that of the iPad. That is, if Verizon maintains the current tablet contract scheme it offers with Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

Motorla's Xoom is one of the most highly anticipated tablets since the introduction of Apple's iPad early last year. The Xoom will be the first tablet to use Google's Android 3.0 operating system dubbed "Honeycomb," have front and rear-facing cameras, a dual-core Nvidia processor, and Google Talk with video chat, among other marquee features.

Verizon offers the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet--which has integrated 3G capability--only one way: for full price ($499.99) with a month-to-month 3G contract. This makes the structure of the 3G contract more or less the same as the iPad's, which is also month-to-month.

Will the Motorola Xoom follow suit? That, of course, remains to be seen, but Verizon's across-the-board pricing strategy for tablets is currently to offer the tablet at full price with month-to-month 3G, according to documentation that can be obtained at Verizon stores.

Verizon is already on the record, stating that the "XOOM device will launch as a 3G/Wi-Fi-enabled device in Q1 2011 with an upgrade to 4G LTE in Q2."

Verizon tablet 3G data pricing differs slightly from iPad pricing. The iPad offers a 2GB data plan for $25 a month, on a month-to-month basis. For tablets, Verizon currently offers a 1GB plan for $20 and a 3GB plan for $35. (Verizon also offers a 5GB plan for $50 a month and a 10GB plan for $80.)

The full price of the Xoom is not known yet, though a report from Engadget on February 6 has one model priced at $800 with a February 24 release date, based on a flier seemingly from Best Buy. The iPad 3G ranges from $629 to $829.

There is also the possibility that Verizon will offer a two-year contract that would likely bring down the Xoom's price.

One of the outstanding questions is whether the Xoom will be more of a 4G device, as Verizon's promotional materials seem to indicate.

It is not clear at this point how a 4G data plan for a Verizon tablet would be structured.

Updated at 8:05 a.m. PT February 7: with Engadget's report on pricing and launch date.