May 21, 2014
But experts have also honed in on another notable insight from last quarter’s earnings breakdowns: Tablet sales are increasing.
Thanks to aggressive data promotions for tablets, the growing popularity of data sharing plans and overall progress in the tablet market within the past months, tablets boasted some of the most promising numbers for carriers from Q1.
Less than a year ago, tablets had proliferated fairly substantially into the market; yet the devices had not made as much impact upon the device market as originally expected.
Instead, smartphones overtook the device market, leaving tablet usage limited to non-wireless interactions, as users seemed content to keep their tablets at home and connected to WiFi. In fact, some carriers removed automatic wireless capabilities for tablets, meaning users had to manually connect and set the capability to use the wireless connection.
Research showed that only half of tablet owners even kept their wireless subscriptions – and even then, users disconnected their wireless from lack of use. As a result, only about five percent of all tablets were connected to wireless data plans. Tablets and LTE just didn’t go together.
By fall of 2013, however, analysis into the future of smart devices showed that tablet growth was picking up speed, with tablet shipments expected to outnumber total PC shipments by Q4 of 2013 – and that momentum culminated in the immense growth we’re seeing today.
The final count of tablet sales? First place goes to Verizon Wireless, which gained about 634K new tablet sales. Next was Sprint with 516K, beating AT&T, which nabbed 313K.*
Together, these top three tablet-selling carriers garnered almost $1.5 million* in tablet sales alone.
And despite the fact that T-Mobile came in last, scoring only about 67K new tablets in Q1, its executives remain optimistic that this is just the tip of the iceberg for tablets and T-Mobile customers.
Looking forward, as saturation in the device market slows the progress of mobility (particularly in the overall decline of smartphone sales due to market saturation), carriers are planning to use this surge in tablet interest as a springboard into new growth.
In particular, T-Mobile is offering its customers the LTE version of the iPad for the same price as the WiFi version, along with 1.2 GB of monthly data free through the end of the year. T-Mobile’s LTE growth alone has been promising in recent months.
The question is whether or not carriers can sustain this tremendous tablet growth, and that depends upon an even bigger question – Why are we seeing these results?
Are tablet sales increasing because we’re becoming as dependent on them as we are upon our smartphones, or are pricing promotions just making wireless connectivity an easy upsell?*
For more information, check out our post about the growth of the smart device industry.
* Reedy, Sarah. Tablets Grow Like ‘OMG’ in Q1, Light Reading. Light Reading.