A study indicates that tablet owners, these days, prefer Wi-Fi only connections over cellular ones

Connected Intelligence, a part of The NPD Group has come with a report, which states that most of the tablet owners prefer Wi-Fi only connections over the regular cellular connections to meet their connectivity needs. One probable reason for this preference can be that most of the places, today, have Wi-Fi connectivity, be it apartments, offices, hotels, airports, shops, certain highways, etc. People get connectivity as a freely available option, so it does not make sense if they pay some extra dollars for cellular connectivity option in their tablet PCs.

The reasons for this move are multiple according to Eddie Hold, vice president, Connected Intelligence. He said, “Concern over the high cost of cellular data plans is certainly an issue, but more consumers are finding that Wi-Fi is available in the majority of locations where they use their tablets, providing them ‘good enough’ connectivity. In addition, the vast majority of tablet users already own a smartphone, which fulfills the ‘must have’ connectivity need.”

However, using a tablet PC becomes a bit of a problem at certain places where Wi-Fi connectivity is not available. Another situation where there can be a problem with a tablet that has only Wi-Fi connection is when you gift it to a person who is not Wi-Fi friendly or who does not have access to Wi-Fi connectivity. In such cases, a tablet PC with cellular connectivity option comes handy.

Moreover, the cost factor, as Hold suggests, is also an important reason why people prefer Wi-Fi only connections in their tablets. If you take a look at different data plan options, for iPad, by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, you will have a clue. Where AT&T charges US$ 14.99 and US$ 25 a month for 250 MB and 2 GB of data a month, respectively, Verizon Wireless charges US$ 30, US$ 50 and US$ 80 for 2 GB, 5 GB and 10 GB of data a month. A Wi-Fi only iPad of 16 GB comes for just US$ 499 compared to one with cellular as well as Wi-Fi connectivity options, which comes for US$ 629. A similar kind of difference in pricing can be seen in other tablets also.

Connected Intelligence’s report further states, ”In April, 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. However, fast forward six months, and the Wi-Fi only connection base has grown to 65 percent of tablet users, at the expense of cellular connectivity.”

This is the reason why there are so many tablets in the market that do not have cellular connectivity option for Internet. A notable example is that of the Wi-Fi only Kindle Fire from Amazon.

Moreover, most of the general users in these days of economic slow-down will anyways prefer lower prices and other cost factors over a constant and better Internet connectivity, as per the report of Connected Intelligence.

Hold further said, “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. 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.”

A recent study said that public Wi-Fi hotspots may increase by up to four times and reach a mark of 5.8 million by 2015. With the increase in the number of public places and housing societies with Wi-Fi connectivity, the situation is further going to not only prevail but expand. With this, the question that arises here is: Will the companies stop manufacturing tablets with cellular connectivity option at all?