There's no question that tablets are quickly gaining popularity, both with the more tech-savvy crowd as well as more mainstream consumers and as a result, most carriers have crafted data plans specifically for use with tablets with cellular radios. According to iSuppli, though, more customers will opt for cheaper WiFi-only tablets in the future, with purchases of cellular-enabled tablets dropping from 60 percent of total sales in 2010 to 30 percent in 2015. Obviously this is a big deal to the carriers, who Reuters reports will respond to the drop by revamping their tablets plans. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said that his carrier plans to introduce family data "mega-plans" that can be shared across several devices, like we reported on yesterday. Meanwhile, David Owens, vice president for product development at Sprint, said that his carrier is considering a move to type of session pricing in the coming months that would allow users to "buy a day, a month or a week pass." AT&T doesn't see as much of a need for change, but it did say that it may consider offering subsidized tablets with long-term contracts in the future.
Although tablets are pretty big right now, it can be hard for some customers to justify paying an extra monthly fee for a slate with a cellular data plan on top of their monthly cell phone bill, especially if they're already paying for a smartphone data plan. When you add in the near-ubiquity of WiFi and the growing number of hotspot-capable handsets, it can be tough to convince consumers to buy a 3G/4G-enabled tablet instead of a WiFi-only model. Verizon and Sprint's plan changes sound like a step in the right direction for the carriers, though, especially the idea of a family data package that's shareable across a number of devices. How many of you own a tablet with a data plan? Would you buy one with a plan like Sprint and Verizon will be introducing?