The latest incarnation of the Samsung Galaxy Tab will go on sale this Thursday, marking the launch of the first 4G LTE tablet in the US. Part of me wants to run out and buy it. It’s Android with a 10-inch screen, which matches my personal tablet requirements, and I live in an area with great LTE coverage. Unfortunately, as much as the idea is tempting, the data plans aren’t. I’d be paying $30/month for a measly 2GB plan (even though I already pay that amount for 4G data on my phone), and it would go up to $50 and $80 for 5GB and 10GB respectively. That’s just not in my budget. And I’m not alone.
IDG analyst Bob O’Donnell told Computerworld earlier this month that 3G tablet sales are suffering. According to O’Donnell, “hundreds of thousands” of the devices are still sitting unsold. Research also shows that the large majority of traffic from tablets is over a Wi-Fi connection. I gained access to stats from Limelight Networks recently (disclosure: I do contract work for Limelight) showing that when users watch video on tablets, they access the highest bit-rate streams more often than not. Higher bit rates mean Wi-Fi, not mobile broadband.
The latest Galaxy Tab sounds great on paper, but unless carriers lower their data pricing, or at least let users share data plans across multiple devices, I don’t know how much demand there can possibly be. Mobile broadband is just too expensive.