While the hype around media tablets is red hot it appears that most consumers couldn’t give a damn.

It’s widely reported that media tablets such as the Apple iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung Galaxy Tab are killing the netbook market, which itself is cannibalizing sales of personal computers.

However, results of a survey of 1,142 consumers conducted by ABI Research (March 2011) reveal that netbooks and media tablets are neck-and-neck in terms of consumer interest – and the majority of people can’t be bothered with them.

25 percent of respondents rated themselves as either “extremely” or “very” interested in acquiring a netbook, while for media tablets, the number was marginally higher at 27 percent.

But according to 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 grabbing today’s headlines, they face major challenges to adoption.

“What activities can media tablets perform that are not already well-addressed by laptop/netbook PCs or smartphones?” Orr asks. “This remains the single largest barrier to consumer interest.”

A little more than half 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.”