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Media tablets emerge as leader in U.S. among ultramobile device competitors, says ABI Research

Media tablets are emerging as the dominant technology among so-called ultramobile devices (UMDs), a category of consumer electronics that includes four commonly owned types of devices that allow people to access the Internet and media on the go, according to new research from ABI Research.

Of the four types of devices making up the UMD category, which includes ultramobile PCs (UMPCs), mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks and media tablets, U.S. media tablet shipments will account for about 75 percent of the total in 2011, according to ABI Research.

The media tablet category, which is being led by consumer adoption of Apple's iPad 2, however, occupies the top spot in a category that's seen frequent changes in leadership. "While the near-term opportunity is all about media tablets, no UMD segment type has ever sustained a lead for longer than 36 months in any part of the world," said ABI Research group director Jeff Orr.

According to ABI Research's new study, "Ultra Mobile Devices in the U.S. Market," netbooks continue to be an important segment. However, volumes in the United States will decline steadily over the next five years from all-time highs of 9.9 million units shipped in 2010.

The study forecasts that netbook value will shift from markets like the United States where computing and mobile broadband are highly competitive to countries where low computing and home broadband penetration offers the greatest potential for mobile computing.

"For UMDs in the U.S. to take the PC or smart phone markets head-on, there needs to be a fundamental shift in buying behavior driven by lifestyle enhancements and workplace requirements," says Orr.