Although the iPad remains the worldwide tablet market leader, its share decreased for the second consecutive quarter due to Android's continued dominance through a number of tablets and manufacturers.
Apple shipped 22.9 million iPad units worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2012, which was predominately spearheaded by the iPad Mini and the iPad 4. According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, the shipments figure represents a 48.1 percent increase in shipments when compared to Q4 2011.
However, Apple's share of the global tablet market decreased once again during Q4 2012. It settled for a share of 43.6 percent, a decrease from 46.4 percent in the third quarter and 51.7 percent in 2011.
Following the iPhone maker, its chief competitor Samsung shipped nearly 8 million Android and Windows 8 tablets combined. From 7.3 percent, the firm's tablet market share increased to 15.1 percent, a 263 percent jump.
Amazon shipped more than 6 million Kindle tablets last quarter, an increase of 26.8 percent from the same quarter in 2011. Its market share, however, decreased to 11.5 percent from 15.9 percent. The online retailer's Kindle Fire accounts for 37 percent of the U.S. Android tablet market.
Asus settled for fourth place due to the strong demand for Google's Nexus 7 tablet. Following the PC manufacturer is Barnes & Noble, which shipped almost a million Nook tablets, although both its shipments and market share dropped. Microsoft, meanwhile, failed to make it to the top five after shipping just under 900,000 Surface RT tablets.
"Reaction to the company's Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best," said IDC program manager Ryan Reith. "We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs (average selling prices) on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes."
Fourth-quarter tablet shipments reached 52.5 million, a 74.3 percent increase from the third quarter and a 75.3 percent jump when compared to 2011's fourth quarter. IDC said lower selling prices, a variety of new tablets and record holiday spending contributed to the increases in sales. During 2013, tablet shipments are expected to exceed 240 million.