Port Washington, N.Y. — Only 12 percent of tablet owners used cellular-embedded tablets to connect to the Internet in the first quarter, an NPD Group survey found.
Nonetheless, the number of cellular-embedded tablets with active cellular subscriptions grew 48 percent in the quarter compared with the year-ago period, NPD said.
“Most consumers haven’t found that key application convincing them to add a cellular connection,” said Eddie Hold, VP of NPD’s Connected Intelligence research. “Another setback is that many tablets purchased today do not include a cellular modem, which further limits the directly addressable market for mobile operators.” Carriers, he said, “need to focus on tethering and mobile hot-spot solutions in order to grow the market [connecting tablets to cellular networks] more rapidly.”
Sales of connected tablets are currently dominated by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, given that most consumers purchase connected tablets from their current smartphone provider, he said. Both carriers were also early sellers of the iPad, he noted.
The launch of mobile share plans last year helped the two carriers strengthen their market share, he noted. Nonetheless, “these tablet users can prove to be far more fickle in their ongoing need for cellular tablet connections, and all carriers need to work hard to show the value and benefit that comes from an always-on tablet solution in order to defend — and expand — their all-important tablet base.” The carriers need to find “key-use scenarios for mobile tablet use,” he contended.
The survey also found that when a cellular-embedded tablet has been activated, users consumer on average 850MB of cellular data per month, less than the average 1GB on smartphones. The cellular-equipped tablets, however, consume about 10GB of data per month via Wi-Fi, or 2.5 times the Wi-Fi data used by smartphones, NPD also found. The higher Wi-Fi data consumption by tablets compared with smartphones is the result of higher video consumption on tablets, or about 4GB per tablet per month, NPD said.