Just one of every 10 tablets sold uses a cellular connection, Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting revealed in a report on Tuesday.
Since most tablet owners typically also have a smartphone, they appear to be reluctant to pay for both services. Sharma expects that carriers want to attract those users and will soon make changes so that tablet cellular plans are more attractive. “Operators who start to bundle multiple devices by single data plans and data buckets are going to see a better yield in this category,” Sharma said.
The trend is the same in Canada, according to Krista Napier, senior mobility analyst at IDC Canada. “We have found the most popular media tablets to date have been those that are WiFi only,” she said in an email.
“A lot of that has to do with the initial price of the device (WiFi devices are usually less expensive than devices that are capable of 3G/4G/LTE), but also, with WiFi, consumers don’t have to worry about additional data plans.
“Furthermore, media tablets are often used in the home, at an office, or in places like hotels & airports, where the individual user will most likely have a WiFi connection anyway, so having the added cellular connection is not always necessary for what they are being used for today.
Operators aren’t the only companies trying to keep pace with the changing market for computing products. By 2014 in the U.S., Sharma expects that more than 200 million smartphones and emerging devices will ship, up from under 50 million in 2009. But the computer market will grow at a much slower rate, with shipments up from just over 50 million in 2009 to still under 100 million in 2014.
“More than anything else, the old guard is having a tough time adjusting to the new computing paradigm,” Sharma said. He pointed to Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. as examples of traditional computer powerhouses which have failed to launch a decent tablet or smartphone.
Sharma expects to see the mobile industry reach an important milestone in early 2013. That’s when he predicts that data revenues will exceed voice revenues in the U.S. market for the first time.
Sharma covered a wide range of additional topics in his quarterly report, including mobile subscriber growth, smartphone sales and patent awards.
(With adds by Howard Solomon, Network World Canada)