Media tablet shipments overtake netbook shipments

25 Oct 2011

There has been a change of leadership in the tablet versus netbook stakes. Media tablet shipments have surpassed netbook shipments this quarter, reaching 13.6m units, compared to just 7.3m netbooks.

Netbooks had previously led the way, with 8.4m shipments in 1Q11, compared to just 6.4m 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 behaviour, but a changing of leadership for the most interesting device type.”

What is driving media tablet sales?

Driving media tablet interest is Apple’s iPad 2. Some 68pc of the media tablet shipments in Q2 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 – think the Baby Boomer generation and older – 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 US$600 and the average netbook is only about half of that,” says Orr.

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

Media tablet shipments will primarily cater to the early-adopter consumer audiences of Western Europe, the US, Japan, and South Korea.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years