& cplSiteName &

Tablets Grow Like 'OMG' in Q1

Sarah Thomas
5/1/2014
50%
50%

Now that the big four US wireless operators have reported their first quarter earnings, it's clear there is a new star of the show: tablets.

In years past, tablets might have offered a bit of a numbers boost in the connected devices category, but consumers weren't opting for LTE connectivity for the most part. Some, like Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), only offered WiFi tablets in stores for their customers.

That is all starting to change, helped by aggressive tablet data promotions, the move to data sharing plans, and the maturity of the tablet category, in general. For Verizon Wireless , they were a bright spot in a quarter that otherwise saw it lose its crown of most postpaid customer additions. And Sprint managed to add 516,000 tablets in the quarter, beating out AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 313,000 tablet sales. Combined, the three operators reached nearly 1.5 million in tablet sales. (See Verizon Loses Its Postpaid Net Add Crown, Sprint: LTE TDD Speed Boost Coming Soon, and AT&T Gets 81% of Subs Off Unlimited Data.)

No, not this kind of tablets.

For T-Mobile US Inc. , which began 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, it's just getting started in tablets. It sold 67,000 in the quarter, much less than its competitors. But, speaking on the carrier's first quarter earnings call, CEO John Legere called the early response to its tablet promotions "phenomenal, one of those 'oh my god' changes in growth that told us this was a space we can really play in." (See T-Mobile Drops LTE iPad Prices to WiFi Levels and T-Mobile Sacrifices Costs for Customers.)

That said, he wanted to clarify that the uncarrier's shift to tablets won't be "what you've seen so far," meaning a way to make up for smartphone declines. "We want to grow considerably in the phone business and in tablets," he said. "Watch this space for us, but not as a way to fill in a hole or back up the truck with cheap numbers."

T-Mobile is going to have to prove it can sustain its growth in tablets, just like the rest of its business, even after the year is up. The tablet trend will be an interesting one to keep an eye on. Has the device that no one actually really needs become one that people can't live without, even on the go? Or, are pricing promotions just making connectivity an easy upsell?

The answer will be up to the wireless operators to figure out over the next few quarters.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/5/2014 | 12:02:20 PM
Re: still popular when free?
Good points, jabailo. I haven't used it as a remote, but it is a great second screen for TV viewing. And, for recipes. Okay, I guess I don't use my tablet that much, but I should start. It's a better screen than my phone, but I guess laziness is the main reason why I typically reach for my phone instead.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/5/2014 | 12:00:50 PM
Re: still popular when free?
This isn't a growth spurt early in the life of tablets though (and actually tablet sales are slumping a bit over at Apple, as Mitch points). This growth spurt is a result of how tablets are being priced at operators, I think. A good lesson for the wearables category.
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/4/2014 | 4:02:53 PM
Re: still popular when free?
It's a device that finds uses.

For example, if you consume any type of social media, like Twitter or Facebook, you'll find it so much easier to reach for the tablet than cranking up the PC and yet, the bigger screen is more readable.   It's nice for informational web browsing.  Being able to call up a recipe and also take it into the kitchen without printing (in general, anything that you would print and carry with you, you can now bring up on a tablet, and take the tablet).

You will be frustrated and sent running back to the keyboard if you ever want to express a thought that is more than a quip or bonmot, although I'm getting better at creating complete paragraphs with it.

And, as mentioned, Chromecast is making it indespensible as a remote control device.  Also it's introduces a different gaming style than the controller/console/screen model, one where all three are combined in one and you can twist and turn the whole device to drive a car, or do battle, or do 1st-person gaming.  

That's really something.   With a 4G connection, there's location based gaming.  I tried one of those and while it wasn't more than a quarter-baked, I could see where it might lead eventually.

And while I prefer my Kindle e.Ink for reading, I can easily add the Kindle App and have a back lit reader for low light situations, plane travel and airports.  So here it takes a proprietary device and makes it generic.

 
kq4ym
50%
50%
kq4ym,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/4/2014 | 9:06:01 AM
Re: still popular when free?
I still haven't caught on the why I need a tablet. Other than some convenience when traveling, I still haven't used them much. But any gadget is going to see growth in sales and use at least for a time. Who knows, maybe the next growth spurt will be the wearables market as we get our data fixes from glasses or watches?
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/2/2014 | 4:03:42 PM
Re: still popular when free?
My iPad is a workhorse for me when I travel for business. I leave the laptop in the hotel room and use the iPad with a keyboard for most computing. 

I was reluctant to get the LTE option, thinking I'd have WiFi access everywhere I needed connectivity. But when I got the LTE, I was glad I did. It's not that expensive and so much more convenient when just connecting for a few minutes in an airport or a hotel lobby. 

And these Q1 results for carriers are particularly interesting in light of iPad sales slumping for Apple. 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/2/2014 | 1:00:45 PM
Re: still popular when free?
I'm the same way. I never take my own on the go with me. Would love to use it when I commute, but I worry it would get stolen. I really only use it on airplanes and for FaceTime when I travel internationally, but my fiance and parents use their's all the time. I think it's a case-by-case basis, but a lot of people will want to give themselves the freedom to use it whenever and however, so will buy the LTE version when the price is neglible, as T-Mobile has made it. If you aren't required to use the data, there's no downside.
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/2/2014 | 12:51:32 PM
Re: still popular when free?
In the past year, after declaring for a long time I needed a keyboard or nothing, I bought a cheap Ideatab and have used the heck out it ever since.

Howeer, I rarely take it outdoors.  Inside, I use it to quickly browse sites like Facebook, but with Chromecast it's now become my Universal Remote because I use it to "cast" video entertainment from Netflix and YouTube and also music streams from Rhapsody and Pandora to my LCD/Soundbar set up.

That said, the traditional tablet still seems a bit rarified perhaps because I don't own an "always connected" version (though, I could carry around a Clear hotspot).  I hardly ever take it outdoors, not only because of limited Wifi but also because they don't make screens that work in sunlight. (For this reason, I've stuck with the Kindle e.Ink which is not only a tremendous bargain, but also works even better in bright sunlight and has a battery that lasts for one or two weeks!)  Having one with built in LTE sounds like a solution, but does it raise the costs too high?  


I have long felt we're entering what I've termed the Pocket Calculator era for computers, where people expect to be able to grab and go, just like taking a legal pad from the office supply room.  I want to be able to leave my tablet on the plane, or have it stolen, and go to office depot and get another for under $100.   Do these higher priced, but always wired tablets fit the bill?

 
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
5/1/2014 | 5:49:09 PM
still popular when free?
T-Mobile's growth is impressive starting from a base of zero, but it still has a long ways to go to catch up to its peers. When the free data runs out is when things will get interesting. Is that a promotion it can renew?
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
On March 8 we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women, and maybe abstain from working. Tell us how you are being bold to bring change.
Join WiC's first networking breakfast event of the year on Wednesday, March 22, in Denver, Colo., to talk mentoring -- how to find one, how to be one and much more.
In honor of Valentine's Day, WiC is highlighting five of the sites, companies, products, commercials and more related to women at work that we're digging this month.
Biases from computer programs will seep into the algorithms behind AI, meaning computers of the future could be just as homogenous as today's tech workforce.
Female-only co-working spaces are popping up all over the place, but is cutting men out the best way to level the playing field in the tech industry?
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
CommScope – Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow's Networks

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Phil Sorksy, Vice President International at CommScope, discusses addressing the challenges faced by service providers today, and as future trends emerge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
AMS-IX & Huawei's OSN 902

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shows how its OSN 902 platform helps the Amsterdam Internet exchange to connect the world using multiplexing.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Smart Energy Innovation Center

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In Nuremberg, Huawei showcases its latest capabilities in the digitalization of Internet resources, network infrastructure and intelligence at its Smart Energy Innovation Center.
Valley Wonk
OFC & Hyperscale: A Good Mix?

3|24|17   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Cloud and telecom players want different types of equipment for their networks, as the chatter at OFC reveals.
LRTV Custom TV
Etisalat on NFV Journey

3|24|17   |   10:37   |   (0) comments


Etisalat is a service provider that prides itself on bringing innovative technologies to the markets it serves. It was one of the first operators to implement 3G and leads the pack in fiber penetration. Now, Esmaeel Al Hammadi, Etisalat's SVP of Network Development, explains the operator's journey to virtualization, beginning with the network core, as well as the ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


The Citrix NetScaler mobile gateway is an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, NetScaler can be deployed on any hypervisor, on a ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: 2 Billion Adults 'Trapped' in Cash Economy

3|21|17   |   03:51   |   (1) comment


Despite advances made in the last several years, two billion adults around the world are trapped in a cash economy and lack what we take for granted -- a safe way to receive, save and use money. Shamina Singh, executive vice president of sustainability and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, chats about how Mastercard is developing new ways to ...
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Welcome to the Wild West of Privacy
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.