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Will Aussies buy tablets on plans?

Date

Gadgets on the go

Adam Turner is an award-winning Australian freelance technology journalist with a passion for gadgets and the "digital lounge room".

View more entries from Gadgets on the go

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G which runs on Telstra's LTE network.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G which runs on Telstra's LTE network.

Will we upgrade our tablets like we do our phones?

Many Australians ride the smartphone upgrade cycle because they get a "free" new phone every two years. Of course the phone is not really free, the price is obviously built into the deal, but it feels free because after two years you're probably going to keep paying the same amount to your telco each month even if you don't upgrade to a new plan with a new handset.

When tablets first came along I wondered if they'd enjoy the same upgrade momentum as phones. There were few if any contract options available for the first Wi-Fi/3G iPad when it went on sale. I expected that most people would prefer to buy tablets outright, especially as they could save money with a Wi-Fi-only model and tether it to their smartphone when they needed internet access on the go. Wi-Fi Hotspot features in smartphones are more prevalent today than when the iPad first launched, which you'd think would help drive sales of Wi-Fi only models. 

After studying the trends, comparison site WhistleOut concludes that buying on a plan is likely to become the most common way Australians buy their tablets, according to director Cameron Craig.

"I expect buying on plan will become the predominant way to buy a tablet," Craig says.

"In just three years, we have seen the tablet become an everyday item and the early adopters have all purchased at full price early on. The rest of the market will be harder to convert so a monthly plan is the next phase in going mass market. Having a monthly payment and embedded 3G connectivity for one price is an obvious choice for many.”

Today you'll find a tablet in 18 per cent of Australian households and this is forecast to more than double to be 39 per cent by 2013. Craig is convinced that growth will come from tablets bought on plans. Australians can now choose from more than 160 contract options for tablets, from 5 telcos across 13 tablet models. They come on plans just like mobile phones: a monthly payment for a broadband plan which might include a small fee up front to cover the cost of the tablet (or perhaps even or even $0).

Personally I think whether we buy the majority of our tablets on plans will depend on the success of highly portable 7 and 8.9-inch tablets, not to mention 5-inch phablets. Having spent some time with the sleek and sexy Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G (pictured above) I reckon it strikes the perfect balance between portability and usability. If more tablets follow its lead I think Craig's prediction could come true.

Do you intend to buy your next tablet outright or on a plan? What size will the screen be?

19 comments so far

  • Still havent bought my first tablet. Would prefer to buy a cheap laptop on a plan, but given they arent available, if I do buy, it will be a tablet on a plan!

    Commenter
    Peterg
    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 7:30PM
    • I have a Ipad WiFi 3g, early adopter model, and there are few things that you learn about a tablet over time. First. If you have WiFi network at home you do not need 3g or 4g. with a smart phone ( I use iPhone 4) you just tether, save the money you will not use all your phone data unless your on holidays and on the thing for hours a day. Remember you are not downloading from bit torrent on a table. Second. You do not need lots of storage. Third. You DO NEED battery life. And lastly, upgrades to the OS are nice. So why is a telco going to want to sell a tablet on a plan without a 3g or 4g contract ? I use my iPad for business all day and sit on the couch and surf whilst watching TV at night. My advice, just buy it and save the money for the upgrade your going to want in a year or two.

      Commenter
      Benny
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 9:17AM
      • With Apple dominating the tablet market and Android tablets failing to get traction (worldwide at 68%: http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23466712 ) I expect that Carriers and their plans will be cut out from sales.
        Especially if people buy the WiFi only model. It will be aggressive retailers like JB HiFi and Big W who can take the sales. I have no plans to buy a tablet but expect the iPad to continue as the product and therefore size that everyone wants.

        Commenter
        Telemetry
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        May 04, 2012, 9:25AM
        • no. tablet plans are over-priced.

          All phones are portable hotspots, therefore the data plan becomes irrelevant (as does 3/4g capabilities that push a tablets price up).

          Better off with the outright purchase and flushing it through works salary sacrifice.

          Also the apps from that let you control your samsung tv via your phone/tablet NEED wifi to work, not 3/4g

          Commenter
          paul
          Location
          sydney
          Date and time
          May 04, 2012, 9:55AM
          • Why would I pay for a plan and end up tied into a contract with a tablet that's locked to a network and potentially filled with a mobile provider's adware plus branding when I could get an unlocked one and either tether it to my smartphone or buy a cheap, pre-paid sim?

            Commenter
            DM
            Date and time
            May 04, 2012, 10:16AM
            • this post is so nicely SEO optimized for three kewywords "Aussies" "tablets" "Plans" ..haha good one get more people to buy plans from watoday

              Commenter
              Jayjay
              Location
              bombaboomba
              Date and time
              May 04, 2012, 10:43AM
              • No.

                Commenter
                Dule
                Location
                Sydney
                Date and time
                May 04, 2012, 10:50AM
                • I have an iPad and love it but there is no way it is a business tool. The iPad is a toy. Great for games and viewing things but if you need to create anything more complicated than an email its a pain in the ....

                  I have a Samsung Slate 7 Tablet PC for business and it is AWESOME! Difference? It runs windows 7 with all the benefits that come with that - full MS office, flash and compatibility with everything else in the world. Plus you can use a digitiser pen. This makes it infintely more practical than the ipad. I have done away with my laptop as you can plug the Slate into a screen and use its included bluetooth keyboard. In short, iPad for play, Tablet PC for work.

                  Commenter
                  Paul
                  Location
                  Melbourne
                  Date and time
                  May 04, 2012, 10:56AM
                  • I was with a real-estate agent recently looking at some properties. I asked if they had any more properties available. Out came the iPad. It was fired up in seconds & we were on the web looking at more properties. A very useful business tool for a real estate agent.

                    Smart people will see the business opportunities & take advantage of the new technology. Others will not.

                    Incidentally, that meeting convinced me that the 3G iPad was the way to go (& not the Wi-Fi model). I got the 64GB model with 1.5GB of data on a 24 month plan that I could not say no to. Sure beats forking out ~$1000 up front for the same model (especially if you know the time value of money).

                    Commenter
                    Wild Man
                    Location
                    Cyberspace
                    Date and time
                    May 05, 2012, 7:27PM
                • Tablets are just a passing phase anyway. People will soon realise there is no point owning both a high end smartphone and a tablet as they both have almost identical processing power, memory and function.

                  Commenter
                  Grouch
                  Location
                  Near Melbourne
                  Date and time
                  May 04, 2012, 11:10AM

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