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60 Million Media Tablets will Ship Worldwide in 2011

You've been thinking about your next portable computing device, but you can't decide because there are now numerous options to consider. Perhaps the next device that you purchase won't be called a computer. Does it matter?

Media tablet shipments surpassed netbook personal computer (PC) shipments this quarter -- reaching 13.6 million tablets, compared to just 7.3 million netbooks.

Netbook PCs had previously led the way with 8.4 million shipments in 1Q11, compared to just 6.4 million media tablets.

“This is a trend that we do not expect will reverse,” says Jeff Orr, group director, mobile devices at ABI Research. “As they are different segments, this is not a direct replacement behavior, but a changing of leadership for the most interesting device type.”

Driving media tablet interest is Apple’s iPad 2. In fact, 68 percenet of the media tablet shipments in 2Q11 consisted of Apple iPad models.

Consumers are choosing tablets over netbooks for a number of reasons. Media tablets are perceived to be easy to use, compared to the keyboard and mouse interface of a netbook computer.

Those who have avoided PCs because they are difficult to use -- the Baby Boomer generation and older people who are very late-adopters -- see media tablets as an opportunity to re-engage with Internet access.

"Cost, however, is certainly not a reason driving tablet interest, as the average media tablet costs approximately $600 and the average netbook is only about half of that," says Orr.

While 32 million netbook PCs and 60 million media tablets are expected to ship worldwide in 2011, netbooks still hold interest in under-served countries, where PC penetration to the home, along with broadband services, are not widely available.

In contrast, media tablet shipments will primarily cater to the early-adopter consumer audiences of Western Europe, the U.S., Japan, and South Korea.

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