Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

Summary: Nobody wants 3G tablets because nobody wants to pay for the 3G data, according to an IDG analyst.

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Nobody wants 3G tablets because nobody wants to pay for the 3G data, according to an IDG analyst.

Speaking to ComputerWorld, IDG analyst Bob O'Donnell said that "hundreds of thousands" of 3G tablets are sitting on shelves and in supply chains gathering dust because "nobody wants to pay for that data." The solution, according to O'Donnell, is for carriers to allow people to use a single data plan across multiple devices.

This makes sense. A lot of sense. I can understand how carriers see the boom in mobile devices as a massive cash cow, and that the idea of selling multiple data plans to one person owning both a smartphone and a tablet is hugely compelling, but data plans are expensive and people are smart. People realize that they're paying twice for something that in reality they shouldn't need to. The ideal situation would be to pay for the data you think you'll consume over a month and then be able to use that across multiple devices.

A simple way that carriers could offer this is to make tethering (that is, setting up a WiFi hotspot using a smartphone or tablet) cheaper. It makes no sense (from a consumer point of view at any rate) for customers to be billed more than a token amount for this service. The argument given against offering this feature is network saturation, but a GB is a GB is a GB, and if people are burning through data faster than previously then either their quote won't last the whole month (which could mean juicy overage fees for the carrier) or they will need to upgrade to a bigger plan.

Then there's the difference in usage between smartphones and tablets. It makes sense for a smartphone to have a 3G connection because people use them while on the move. Tablets on the other hand, are less likely to be used on the move and more likely to be whipped out in places where people will have access to WiFi ... at home, at the office, in a coffee shop. People aren't going to pay big bucks for a data connection they only get around to using infrequently.

I'm going to throw another reason why sales of 3G tablets are sluggish ... carrier dissatisfaction. On the whole it seems that people are dissatisfied with their current carrier (no matter who their carrier is ...), and this is making people reluctant to give their current carrier more money. While there's a certain level 'the grass is greener on the other side' feeling, and folks feel they might be better off with a different carrier, they aren't motivated enough to do that either. This is where unlocked tablets come in and could allow people to pick and choose between carriers.

If manufacturers want to sell 3G tablets, they need to get creative with how to sell that data plan.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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60 comments
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  • This blog is just .......

    too damn sensible. I wonder why the carriers cannot figure it out? Threatening people who spend their data "allowance" using different devices and "illegal" tethering is about as ridiculous as it gets. Continuously pi$$$ing off your customers cannot be good for business.
    Economister
    • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

      @Economister
      Exactly. Most of the travelling executives, businessmen and consultants, who use Tablets have been paying for 3G Data anywhere. Most of them have either prepaid or contract based 3G Hotspots. Having a seperate tablet with 3G capability, which could not share its data plan with other devices is ridiculous and doesn't make any sense. The carriers should open their eyes just and they either stop selling 3G Tablets or liberalize tethering once the user pays exorbitant prices for data plan anyway.
      Ram U
    • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

      @Economister <br>I really don't get why American consumers would stand for this double charging. In most countries in Asia, you can get an unlimited data plan at around $20 per month. It is basically a Sim card which you can use in your mobile phone, or USB wireless modem. If you want to use your connection for multiple devices, you can even buy a mini wifi router with a sim card slot in it, that supports five devices. And the best thing is, you don't have to pay extra for tethering.
      iced_man21
  • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

    I could MAYBE understand it back in the world of unlimited bandwidth, but with today's tiered pricing, it doesn't make sense. I'd get a 3G tablet in a heartbeat if I could use the same dataplan as my smartphone. Not to mention I'd actually be using more data they could charge me for.
    Aerowind
    • It is a little bit like....

      @Aerowind

      charging you extra for using water in a second bathroom, beyond the per unit volume charge if there is one. Where you choose to go to the bathroom is none of the water utility's business. How much water you use may be their business.
      Economister
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @Economister exactly :D
        sandeeppolisetty
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @Economister simple and VERY well put!!!
        beetham
  • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

    The way that carriers behave reminds me of the way business used to behave in the Victorian era, the days before regulation. I think that they are basically begging governments to step in and tell them what they can and cannot do. They are like little children playing up because they can get away with it.
    DarthCyclist
    • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

      @DarthCyclist

      "They are like little children playing up because they can get away with it." <-- There's the problem... the carriers have been able to sell it, because people are willing to pay for it (twice). If the market wouldn't buy a 2nd data plan for their tablet, the carriers would change their pricing strategy.
      ttwiw
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @ttwiw However people are too disconnected to do just that. They'd rather cry and whine to Big G to fix the problem, not realizing that Big G IS the problem. I refuse to pay for data twice and until they change this or give a "data anywhere" package (that is fair on the usage) I'll be sticking with wifi.
        JT82
  • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

    Another BS article by a writer who obviously doesn't use/test/try any of the products the write about. First of all there is NO tablet market. There's only an iPad market. Apple can't keep 3G iPads in the stores long enough (go check any retail store). This is an example of really bad journalism, if you can even call it that these days.
    SBMobile
    • A really bad post

      @SBMobile<br><br>Firstly, there clearly IS a tablet market, even though Android, BB and WebOS tablets are not doing as well as expected/hoped - yet.<br><br>Secondly, whether 3G iPads are in stock or not tells us absolutely nothing unless you look at how many are being manufactured and maybe even how the ones sold are being used.<br><br>If you are going to dump on someone's blog or Talkback, you should at least have extremely solid reasons and arguments for doing so. What you came up with is just pathetic fan boy blabber.
      Economister
    • How many were on sale in 1st place..

      @SBMobile ..is the question.. all indication is that WiFi iPads outsell 3G ones 3-4 to 1.. from Apple's financials.. average selling price of iPad is $600.. if they are sold out and I believe they really are .. all tjis shows is that Apple knows their business and they only build and ship what they know they can sell.. in present climate 3G tablets don't make much sense.. people aren't stupid..
      doctorSpoc
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @doctorSpoc
        I don't see any issue in your post to be "flagged", but the ghost flagger is at work. ;-)
        Ram U
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @doctorSpoc so I suspect my response will be "flagged" as well and I couldn't reply to @Rama.NET because he's flagged as well.

        Your comments are well put, accurate and make sense.... maybe that's why it was flagged :P
        beetham
    • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

      @SBMobile
      there is a tablet market, eventhough it was very minimal even before iPad came into light. There are Windows and Linux tablets and convertibles in the market. Ok, iPad made it volumes, but there was a tablet market well before iPads. And also we have had unlimited data plans with free tethering in good old Palm and Windows Mobile era. I was using my Windows Mobile phone for tethering (GPRS, EDGE, 3G) using WiFiRouter, which was free, Bluetooth, and USB for "Free". Eventhough iPhone is great, the success of it made AT&T "greed" with data, and rest of the carriers caught it.
      Ram U
  • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

    When my current phone contract is up, I will seriously consider dropping the data plan/smart phone in favor of a simple simple phone for texting/voice. I will upgrade my iPad to a 3G version, and pay for data on my tablet. Tethering is nice in a pinch, but at the end of the day, all it really gets you is two devices with dead batteries.
    jhuddle
    • Buy devices with...

      @jhuddle

      user replaceable batteries. Then you can carry spares. ;-)
      Economister
      • RE: Are 3G tablets dead ducks?

        @Economister That is an option, but my point really is that my iPad is a much better device for data consumption, and having that always online makes more sense than having my phone online, but wanting my tablet online. Sure I can tether carry extra batteries, but doesn't it make more sense to just have the iPad online? The only real objection is the size of the tablet, but for my use I don't see it as a problem.
        jhuddle
    • I found my iPad to be a terrible &quot;mobile&quot; device..

      @jhuddle ..it all depends on one's particular use of course but for me it's just too big to be whipping out and putting away while on the go.. on the go a phone is more than adequate. one I get where I'm going (and that place almost allways had WiFi) the iPad is the device of choice with much larger screen, more productive apps, touch typing in landscape mode etc..
      doctorSpoc