Tablet sales rocketed in the third quarter of 2012 according to the latest figures, but while Samsung and Amazon helped Android to grab a massive slice of that boom, Apple's dominance waned.
According to analyst house IDC more than 27.8 million tablets were shipped in the third quarter of 2012 – up 6.7 percent on the previous quarter - but during that time Apple saw its market share cut to 50.4 percent, compared to 65.5 percent in the previous quarter.
While Apple's dominance is clearer under threat, competitors have some ground to make up: Apple shipped 14 million iPads in the quarter, nearly three times the amount sold by its closest rival.
Apple's shipments are also up 26 percent on the 11.1 million iPads shifted in 2011 quarter.
Arch rival Samsung will nonetheless have taken heart from IDC's figures: it shipped 5.1 million of its Galaxy Tab and Note 10.1 devices – up 115 percent from Q2, and up 325 percent from the year-ago quarter, where it sold 1.2 million tablets.
'"We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad Mini,” said Tom Mainelli, research director at IDC.
But while the release of the iPad Mini may give Apple a boost in the next quarter – an important time for tablet vendors, as it includes the lucrative Christmas sales period – Mainelli predicted Android's assault on the tablet market would continue unabated.
“We believe the Mini's relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter," he said.
Amazon's Kindle helped fuel Android's momentum, shipping 2.4 million units despite not introducing new models until very late in the quarter.
But while the Android tablet makers have begun to eat away at Apple's market share, IDC were sceptical about the prospects for Microsoft, which recently launched its own Surface tablet.
“Price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500,” added Ryan Reith, mobile device programme manager at IDC.
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