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According to Localytics, which derived its data based on app usage it observed, around 89.7 percent of all iPads sold can only connect to Wi-Fi networks. The firm found that 8.8 percent of iPads in the market can connect to 3G networks and 1.5 percent can connect to LTE networks.
However, the firm found that, of all iPad data sessions, just 6 percent are transmitted over a cellular network.
"Apple has reportedly sold over 3 million of the new, 3rd-generation iPads, whose main selling points are updated internals, a Retina display and available 4G LTE connectivity," Localytics wrote in a company blog post. "The first two seem to be driving the quick sales, but the cellular-enabled variants seem to be comparatively unpopular, perhaps because of how quickly they are capable of crushing limited data plans."
Among iPads with 3G connectivity, Localytics found that 55 percent of usage is over Wi-Fi and 45 percent is over 3G networks. On LTE-enabled iPads, 64 percent of usage is over Wi-Fi and 36 percent is via LTE.
The results fit with what other analysts have observed: that the vast majority of data usage on tablets is over Wi-Fi networks. A recent report from Chetan Sharma Consulting found that 90 percent of tablet users are only using Wi-Fi, even if the tablets have cellular data capabilities, which Sharma wrote meant that the operator channel is not a necessary tablet distribution channel. "Operators who start to bundle multiple devices by single data plans and data buckets are going to see a better yield in this category," Sharma wrote. "We expect family data plans to be introduced in the U.S. market soon." Indeed, Verizon Wireless expects to introduce such plans by the middle of the year. Both Verizon and AT&T Mobility support the new iPad in the U.S. market.
According to a December 2011 NPD Group report by the research firm's Connected Intelligence unit, 65 percent of U.S. tablet buyers only connect via Wi-Fi, up from 60 percent in April.
And in yet another data point, UBS predicted that half of all of the new iPads sold will support LTE connections--though it remains up to the individual user to pay for the use of that connection.
- see this Localytics blog post