So, a lot of folks probably got tablets for Christmas. IDC has numbers for the fourth quarter of last year, and they're pretty stunning. 28.2 million tablets purportedly shipped over the three-month period, an increase of 56.1% from the previous quarter and a whopping 155% more than shipped in the fourth quarter of 2010. For 2011 as a whole, tablet makers shipped 68.7 million units, more than three times as many as the previous year.
Apple continues to dominate, but it's losing market share to Android-based devices. The iPad name was on 54.7% of tablets shipped in the fourth quarter, down from 61.5% in Q3. Amazon's Kindle Fire is credited for Android's surge; the 7" device made up 16.8% of tablet shipments in the final quarter of last year, according to IDC. Samsung, Barnes & Noble, and discount tablet vendor Pandigital rounded out the top five. Asus didn't make the cut, which means it had less than a 2.5% slice of the pie.
IDC expects a slow shift toward Android in the coming years, but Apple is projected to retain the lion's share of the market until at least 2016. I suspect the new iPad, coupled with the old model's freshly discounted price, will help the company's market share rebound in the first half of the year. Windows 8-powered tablets are coming eventually, though, and IDC doesn't seem to take them into account at all. While only ARM-based Win8 devices may fit in the "media tablet" category populated by the iPad and Kindle Fire, they'll surely make up more than sliver of shipments reserved for "others" in IDC's projections.
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