Although the Motorola Xoom for $199 sold extremely well during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the best tablet deals of the year were the $99 and $149 Wi-Fi-enabled HP TouchPads. The Wi-Fi-only Kindle Fire is also doing very well. Wi-Fi is becoming the preferred method of data access for tabet due to cellular data pricing, availability of Wi-Fi and smartphone adoption.
Yesterday, the sale of HP TouchPads slowed down eBay while HP sold 2,316 of t$99 16GB TouchPads and 5,534 of the 32GB $149 model. The original HP TouchPad fire sale downed even the HP website. Along with the low price, many buyers liked the fact that the tablets operate via Wi-Fi access.
As tablet adoption increases in the U.S., the rate of cellular data tablet data service is not at the same pace. Instead, more tablet owners rely on Wi-Fi-only connections, according to The NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence.
In April 2011, 60 percent of tablet users only connected via Wi-Fi, but 5 percent of them said they planned to purchase mobile broadband plans within the next six months. Six months later and the Wi-Fi-only connection base has grown to 65 percent of tablet users,
NPD suggest the reasons for greater Wi-Fi reliance:
- Concern over the high cost of cellular data plans is certainly an issue.
- More consumers are finding that Wi-Fi is available in the majority of locations where they use their tablets, providing them ‘good enough’ connectivity.
- A vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, which fulfills the ‘must have’ connectivity need.
There are also many more tablets hitting the market that do not provide cellular connectivity, such as the Kindle Fire. While many early adopters opted for tablets with embedded cellular – primarily as a “future proof” play – mainstream consumers are more likely to choose a lower price point and forgo the promise of constant connectivity.
“There is a relatively low mobile connection rate for tablet users today in light of the fact that these were early adopters, and therefore less price conscious than the mainstream,” stated Hold. “If there is not an ongoing need for these early adopters to be always-on, then the carriers clearly face challenges with the larger consumer audience moving forward.”