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Tablets are going mainstream. More 3G subscriptions but less calls and SMS…

iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Notion Ink Adam, ASUS EEE Pad, Dell Streak / Looking Glass, Archos, Acer Iconia, LG Optimus Pad, Viewsonic ViewPad, Kno, Hannspree Tablet, etc. The list goes on and on. 2011 will be the year the tablet went mainstream. Thank you Steve Jobs!!!

Although a good percentage of tablets will come with 3G connectivity, and even 4G future-expandable connectivity, does this mean that telecom will get another cash-cow? I do not think so!

Yes operators will sell another SIM and the associated monthly data charges. But with people having to buy multiple SIMs, they will want to see discounts. Users will want plans that focus mainly on data. This means to have price plans that reduce calls and SMS monthly costs to the minimum. The idea is that they would use their phone to call and their table to surf.

However what is likely to happen is that users will come into situations where they want to communicate with people from their table. Since calling and sending an SMS is too expensive with their tablet data subscription they will install more and more instant messaging and VoIP apps. Pretty soon users will get accustomed to use video chat instead of just voice calls.

The end result will be a boost to IM, VoIP and video chat apps. If you use them on your tablet, then you are more likely to also start using them on your iPhone or Android. The final result might be that subscription revenue goes up for the operator but call and SMS revenue goes down significantly as well. Perhaps the overall outcome in revenue is positive but the final result is that at the end of 2011 operators are seen as data plan providers, a.k.a. bit-pipes.

There is no quick fix for the operators. Launching some operator-build tablet apps will not reverse the curve. Nobody wants Faceclone or SMSitter. People want the real thing.

A drastic shift is necessary in the operator to form part of this new eco-system, see long-tail telco.

 

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