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Tablet data subscriptions to double by 2021

Strategy Analytics forecasts global mobile data subscriptions on tablets will more than double from 2015 to 2021, reaching over 200 million – according to Strategy Analytics.

In the US, three of the four top carriers have grown tablet connections to nearly 10 per cent of their subscriber base – still room for growth as Verizon Wireless points out, but  a testament to their focus on tablet growth strategies and a contributor to lower churn. T-Mobile US CEO John Legere has called out Verizon’s tablet net adds on twitter, chiding his competitors for a lack of smartphone growth, but the now third ranked carrier would do well to ramp up its tablet efforts and build on its innovative “comes with free data” and zero-rated music options to increase tablet subscriptions among its growing smartphone user base.

Key findings from the reports:

  • Around the globe, over 100 million wireless connections on cellular enabled tablets will be added through 2021. By 2021 tablets will only account for 2 per cent of total mobile subscriptions, a 2.7 per cent population penetration rate.
  • Shared data plans and lower cost SIM-only tariffs will help increase the portion of tablets with data plans to 19 per cent by 2021, equating to a 54% attach rate of data plans within the cellular tablet installed base.
  • The US is a leading market for tablet subscriptions, with top two carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T driving strong quarterly tablet net adds with their shared data plans.
  • Sprint, which has achieved tablet penetration nearly on par with Verizon Wireless and AT&T, is focusing on equipment instalment plans (EIP) and leasing plans and offers all-in pricing bundling a tablet with a smartphone and service for both with a simple monthly price.
  • In other regions, MTS in Russia and Vodacom in South Africa have successfully targeted tablet growth with their own-branded tablets; Vodacom has bundled its own-branded tablet with content for children.

Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Director, Wireless Operator Strategies said: “Tablets are not a one-size fits all device, and the best approach is targeted offers with device portfolio and service plans to address the needs of each segment, much as is done (or should be done) with handsets. Strategy Analytics recommends bundling content for enterprise and consumer segments as a next step to make purchase of a 3G or 4G tablet with a service plan more compelling.”

Phil Kendall, Executive Director, Wireless Operator Strategies, commented: “We are seeing an increase in use of equipment instalment plans (EIP) to lower the barriers for upfront purchase of a cellular-enabled tablet. In emerging markets, operator branded and other low cost tablets with good functionality, bundled with small initial or monthly free data allocations and targeted content are making tablets accessible to new users.”

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