Samsung was the big winner as the tablet market continued on its seemingly unstoppable upward trajectory in 2012's closing quarter, according to IDC figures.
The market watcher's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker reveals that global shipments totalled 52.5 million in Q4. This represents a sequential rise of 74.3 per cent and a year-on-year increase of 75.3 per cent.
Apple maintains a healthy lead in the vendor league table, but the iPad-maker has seen its market share erode more than eight points to 43.6 per cent since the beginning of last year. The vendor grew its shipments 48.1 per cent annually to 22.9 million in Q4.
Second-placed Samsung posted a 263 per cent increase in units shipped during the quarter. It pushed 7.9 million Galaxy devices into the market in Q4 and its market share has more than doubled in the last year to 15.1 per cent.
Amazon saw Kindle Fire unit sales grow a comparatively modest 26.8 per cent to six million as its market share slid to 11.5 per cent, compared with 15.9 per cent a year ago. ASUS, in fourth, was arguably the market's star performer, with shipments increasing more than fivefold to 3.1 million and market share nigh-on trebling to 5.8 per cent.
Barnes & Noble completes the top five, but the US book retailer posted a 27.7 per cent annual decline as shipments fell to an even one million. The firm's market has slipped from 4.6 to 1.9 per cent in the last year.
Ryan Reith, programme manager for mobile device trackers at IDC, claimed that tablets based on the latest Microsoft operating systems had failed to gain much traction during their first quarter on sale. The high cost of the devices had stymied sales in a market where average selling prices (ASPs) are on the way down, he explained.
"There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company's Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best," added 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 on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes."
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