Tablets continue to drive Verizon’s growth in Q3

Verizon brought 1.53 million new connections to its mobile networks in the third quarter, but as in previous quarters the devices at the end of those connections were more often tablets then smartphones. The carrier reported 1.1 million new tablet customers while it only added a net total of 457,000 postpaid smartphones to its network.

The shift toward tablets is a natural one as carriers are starting to see their customer rolls saturated with smartphones. About 77 percent of Verizon’s postpaid connections are smartphones, and that’s connections, not customers. Since many of Verizon’s customers now have multiple 3G and 4G devices, the percentage of its subscribers that own a smartphone is actually much higher.

[company]Verizon[/company] is still selling millions of new smartphones each quarter, but they’re mainly replacements – customers swapping out their old iPhones and Android devices for new ones. Meanwhile tablets are a much more untapped market: they’re new connections with new data plans (or expanded shared data plans) and new revenues for Verizon.

The fourth quarter could prove a challenging one for Verizon on the tablet front, though the holiday season is normally carriers best sales period for slates. The new iPad Air 2 with the first Apple SIM is going on sale, and Verizon isn’t among the three carriers that the SIM will connect to right out of the box. Verizon can still sell the Air 2 with its own SIM cards, but that means customers will specifically have to seek out a Verizon version of the slate.