Four in ten (41%) of U.S. consumers who use the internet indicate that they own a tablet, roughly equal to rates reported in March 2013 (40%), according to a new research study. However, four in ten (40%) say they plan to purchase a tablet within the next two years, a 33% increase from March 2013. And nearly three in four (72%) say they expect to purchase a tablet at some point in the future.
Among the most popular tablet activities reported in the third quarter of 2013, games moved into the top spot, replacing social networking. Watching movies remained in second place, messaging moved to third, and social networking and shopping round out the top five.
The substantial penetration of tablets into the mobile-device market, and their strong prospects for growth in the near future, are trends to which MNOs should pay close attention when considering the development of new offers. Considering that tablets are fundamentally data-only devices, the increasing consumer appetite for them clearly correlates with and reaffirms the phenomenon of increasing data hunger that we have been noting worldwide. While ever-more generous offerings of data—including a wide variety of data-only plans—is a good path for operators to continue on, they can and should do more.
It appears that tablets are primarily entertainment devices at this point; therefore, to best exploit their revenue-generating potential, operators should be developing rich entertainment content tailored to them. In particular, given the fact that games have now become the most popular activity for tablets, we think that offering access to premium-quality online games is a winning strategy. By developing games—best done in partnership with companies that have experience in the field—or at least by exclusively licensing them, MNOs will be offering their customers a value-added service that will distinguish them from their competitors and help them stay relevant to tablet-using subscribers.