The Apple iPad dominated global tablet sales last year, accounting for 93 per cent of the 4.5 million units shipped in the third quarter alone.
The latest figures from ABI Research released this week show that tablets have created their own market and exceeded expectations.
Jeff Orr, senior practice director at ABI Research, said in the firm's latest Market Data report that Apple's lead may not last.
"Over time, Apple's first-to-market iPad advantage will inevitably erode to some extent," he said.
E-book readers also did well during the period, according to the report, and the US held on to its position as the largest consumer. The top three vendors - Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony - "comfortably maintained their top positions", Orr said.
ABI Research does not count the iPad as a e-book reader, even though it can be used for this purpose.
The appeal of netbooks has waned since the iPad and other tablets were released, but Orr said that this may not be the end of the form factor.
Few new products were released in the first half of 2010, but the last two quarters did show some positive signs of recovery.
"The third quarter saw PC OEMs again breathe life into the netbook segment by introducing new platforms that offered dual-core processors, and lighter/thinner devices with significantly better performance, sleek styling and visual appeal, " he said.
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