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Majority of consumers don't see need for media tablet, says ABI Research

While media tablets offer connected TV fans a portable alternative to their large-screen flat-panel television, a surprisingly large percentage of consumers don't see a need to buy one.

According to ABI Research, nearly half of those surveyed for a March 2011 report said they are either "not very" or "not at all" interested in buying a media tablet. For 60 percent, the reason they lacked interest is they didn't see a need for a tablet.

In fact, the ABI Research survey revealed that interest in media tablets among consumers is running neck and neck with netbooks, a category of computing that many pundits and analysts wrote off with the introduction of Apple's iPad and successive tablets from other vendors. According to the research, 25 percent of consumers said they were "extremely" or "very" interested in acquiring a netbook, while 27 percent said the same about media tablets.

In the view of Jeff Orr, ABI Research mobile devices group director, a major challenge to the adoption of a media tablets is the lack of unique functionality. "What activities can media tablets perform that are not already well-addressed by laptop/netbook PCs or smart phones?" Orr asks. "This remains the single largest barrier to consumer interest."

While not unique in functionality, media tablets do offer a portable high-resolution flat screen well-suited for playback of entertainment. Not surprisingly, the ABI Research survey found a little more than half of those surveyed believe the primary application for a media tablet will be viewing entertainment.

Other entertainment-related applications identified as likely media tablet uses included: email (82 percent); Web browsing (71 percent); watching TV or downloading movies (57 percent); social networking (56 percent); and play games (55 percent).

The results of the survey are presented in three ABI Research releases: "Awareness and Adoption of Netbooks," "Awareness and Adoption of Media Tablets" and "Awareness and Adoption of eBook Readers."