Amazon’s Kindle Fire may have captured headlines in late 2011, but evenafter establishing a new key price point to help fuel strong sales/interest by consumers for media tablets beyond Apple, the device category has yet to quell interest in portable computers. One in three respondents in an ongoing tracking study said they plan to purchase a laptop computer in the first half of 2012.

Additionally, 16 percent of respondents to ABI Research’s Technology Barometer also said they plan to acquire a media tablet. Consumers expressed greater purchase intent in both computing form factors compared to the previous survey. “U.S. consumers are holding on to home PCs longer,” says consumer research group director Jeff Orr. “This has created a near-term opportunity for the incremental purchase of media tablets.  Consumer interest also remains strong for laptops, which include the new, slimmer Ultrabook segment.”

Media tablets, however, are taking market away from the U.S. netbook opportunities, which continue to see less purchase intention from consumers surveyed. Netbooks remain a significant contributor to emerging markets, where home PC penetration remains low.

U.S. PC desktop ownership fell, from 81 percent of respondents down to 75 percent in the latest results, while Windows PC laptop ownership climbed to 64 percent from 61 percent.  Apple laptops also continue to gain share, capturing 11 percent of respondents in the most recent survey, up from the previous 9 percent. Amazon’s Kindle Fire, as well as other lower-priced media tablets, helped boost Android’s position, doubling its previous 3 percent share. Apple meanwhile boosted its iPad position to 8 percent of respondents (up from 5 percent).

“User experience and pricing are key levers for media tablet manufacturers when competing against Apple,” says Orr.  Amazon’s Kindle Fire jumped to the second position behind Samsung for Android media tablet market share after less than one month on the market.  “Apple’s lead is safe for the time being, though the sheer number of competitors will continue to whittle away at the iPad’s market share, particularly when more consumers embrace tablets as laptop alternatives.”

Results are from ABI Research’s Technology Barometer: Connected Home and Computing Service.  ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies.