Wi-Fi Tablets Dominating Category

By Doug Olenick On Dec 19 2011 - 6:01am

NEW YORK — Demand is driving tablet sales through the roof, but cellular adoption is not panning out as originally planned, according to The NPD Group.

NPD’s recent Connected Intelligence report found Wi-Fi-only equipped tablets have grown to 68 percent of the installed base, up from just more than 61 percent during the spring of 2011. This growth has come at the expense of the cellular connectivity, said Eddie Hold, VP of Connected Intelligence.

The study showed models that sported both cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity fell to 23 percent, from 27 percent in the spring. Tablets only capable of connecting through a cell connection suffered, less dropping a point to 4 percent. Tablets offering no wireless technology declined to 5 percent of the market, down from 8 percent earlier this year.

Hold cited consumer concern over cellular data pricing plans as one key for its lack of acceptance, but he noted that the ready availability of public Wi-Fi connections has made the cellular option redundant and unnecessary. The other factor is many people now own a smartphone and use it for the web needs, he added.

This situation is unlikely to change as many of the newer tablets coming onto the market, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, do have a cellular option.

By comparison, the Connected Intelligence data report showed little change in the adoption rate of Wi-Fi and cellular connections when it comes to laptops between spring and late 2011.

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