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Tablet Wars Heating Up

Framingham, Mass. – The Apple iPad has not lost its edge, but it is getting a bit more dull.

The research firm IDC reported Apple is still the top tablet vendor, shipping 22.9 million units globally during the fourth quarter, a 48.1 percent increase over the same period last year. The company ended the quarter with 43.6 percent of the market.

Overall, 52.5 million tablets were shipped worldwide, a 75 percent jump year over year. IDC analysts credited the wider array of tablets now available for the increase.

While Apple retained a healthy lead, its market share is eroding due to Samsung and Asus’ massive year-over-year shipment growth.

Samsung was the second largest shipper, pushing out 7.9 million units during the quarter. This is up from 2.2 million the prior year, which more than doubled its share to 15.1 percent and pushed the company past Amazon.

Asus’ shipments increased 402.5 percent during the quarter, hitting 3.1 million, up from 600,000 in 2011. This gave the company a 5.8 share, enough for fourth place.

Amazon also showed healthy growth, but lost some market share. For the quarter the online retailer shipped 6 million tablets, up from 4.7 million last year. However, its share dipped to 11.5 percent from 15.9 percent.

Barnes & Noble was the only member of the top five tablet shipper club to see a decline. Its shipments fell to 1 million, from 1.4 million, a 27.7 percent decline. Correspondingly, its share fell to 1.9 percent from 4.6 percent.

IDC also noted that the smaller vendors also enjoyed a healthy quarter. The remaining manufacturers saw shipments increase 77.4 percent to 11.6 million for 18.5 percent of the market.