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NPD: Cellular Tablet Sales On Upswing

Port Washington, N.Y. – The number of cellular-connected tablets in the U.S. grew 95 percent to almost 16 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the year-ago quarter, a survey by the NPD Connected Intelligence Connected Home Report found.

Cellular-connected tablets, however, still represent only 14 percent of the 116 million tablets in use in the U.S., NPD said.

Although the use of cellular-enabled tablets is growing rapidly, “for it to become a mass-market product, mobile carriers need to appeal to a mass-market audience,” said John Buffone, executive director, Connected Intelligence. He pointed to the average household income of cellular tablet owners of $105,000 compared with Wi-Fi tablet owners whose average annual income is $17,000 less. Fifty-seven percent of cellular tablet users are college-educated compared with 51 percent of Wi-Fi tablet users, NPD also found. (See table.)

“While 2014 marked the year consumers activated cellular-enabled tablets, 2015 must become the year this technology reaches a broader demographic audience,” he said. “Access to Wi-Fi at home and work is the primary barrier to adoption, so messaging from carriers must emphasize on-the-go activities.” Navigation, email, and posting photos and videos “are the primary activities used more frequently when consumers connect their tablet to a data plan,” he noted.

More than 5,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older were surveyed for the study. Results were calibrated to life-to-date tablet unit sales from the NPD Retail Tracking Service.