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Why Media Tablets and Netbooks will Likely Coexist

It's been suggested by some pundits that media tablets are negatively impacting the netbook PC market, and that both device types are cannibalizing sales of desktop personal computers.

That said, results of a survey of 1,142 consumers conducted by ABI Research in March, 2011 reveal that netbooks and media tablets are comparable -- in terms of consumer interest and demand.

In fact, 25 percent of respondents rated themselves as either "extremely" or "very" interested in acquiring a netbook -- while for media tablets, the number was 27 percent.

According to ABI's assessment, purchases of these companion devices are likely to result in a prolonged PC lifecycle and thereby delay typical replacement plans.

But according to ABI mobile devices group director Jeff Orr, "Nearly half of those surveyed, however, report that they are either 'not very' or 'not at all' interested in purchasing a media tablet. The most common reason for the lack of interest is -- 'I don’t see the need,' selected by 60 percent."

Although media tablets are gaining headlines, they still face some challenges to adoption. "What activities can media tablets perform that are not already well-addressed by laptop/netbook PCs or smartphones?" Orr asks.

This may remain the single largest barrier to consumer interest.

A little more than half of the respondents believe that the primary use for the media tablet will be entertainment. In line with this result, entertainment-related applications are the ones that most people report they would likely use on the media tablet:

- 82 percent intend to use email.

- 71 percent expect to use a web browser.

- 57 percent plan to watch TV or download movies.

- 56 percent intend to use social networking.

- 55 percent plan to play games.

ABI Research conducted a similar survey on netbooks in 2009, when interest levels were shown to be higher. Moreover, the netbook use-case appears to be changing, from a focus on productivity applications towards the consumption of entertainment content.

Orr says, "This change is consistent with potential buyers realigning expectations to match modern netbook capabilities."

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