The tablet market grew 49.5% year-over-year in Q3 2012 with global tablet shipments totalling 27.8 million.
Android shipments, which were led by Samsung and Amazon rose in the quarter while Apple saw its share slip.
Apple's worldwide market share skipped from 65.6% in Q2 2012 to 50.4% in the third quarter.
"After a very strong second quarter, Apple saw growth slow as both consumer and commercial shipments declined, and rumors of a forthcoming iPad mini began to heat up," said Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC. "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. Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, 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."
Other major tablet vendors gained market share du ring the quarter with Samsung shipping 5.1 million tablets in Q3, a significant jump from the 1.2 million tablets the company shipped during the same period last year.
"Samsung took advantage of an opportunity in the second quarter," said Ryan Reith, program manager at IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "The company offers a wide range of tablet offerings across multiple screen sizes and colors, and that clearly resonated with more buyers this quarter. Its growth to 18.4% of worldwide market share during the quarter represents the first time a competitor has attained this level of share since the original launch of the iPad."
Amazon, ASUS and Lenovo also saw growth in the market. Amazon's release of Kindle Fire HD tablets helped grow its global market share from 4.8% in Q2 2012 to 9% in Q3 2012. ASUS saw growth from strong shipments of its Nexus 7 device and strong shipments in China helped Lenovo see significant gains.
Analysts say that as new tablets are introduced from competitors, Apple's standing as market leader will be harder to maintain.
"Competitors are turning up the pressure on market leader Apple," Reith added. "With the recent introduction of a number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, consumers now have a third viable tablet platform from which to choose. However, 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."
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