Analytics firm IDC has released its figures tracking tablet shipments for the last quarter of 2011, and they reveal Apple holding on to the top spot with 54.7 percent of the global market. That's a drop on the 61.5 percent figure recorded in the previous quarter, and IDC says this is largely accounted for by the Kindle Fire. Amazon reportedly shipped 4.7 million tablets to capture 16.8 percent of the market, raising Android's share from 32.3 percent to 44.6 percent. However, Apple's shipments were still up 4.3 million units on the previous quarter, so the fall in marketshare doesn't really represent much in the way of bad news for the company — it's simply to be expected following the debut of a major competitor. Of course, this week's launch of the new iPad (not to mention the $100 price drop on the iPad 2) is guaranteed to give the company a further boost.
Nevertheless, IDC expects Android tablets to overtake the iPad in worldwide marketshare by 2015, due to "the sheer number of vendors" with low-priced devices. IDC also notes that shipments of electronic paper-based e-readers were up in Q4 2011, a quarter-on-quarter improvement of 64.6 percent and a year-on-year increase of 64.3 percent. The firm puts this down to price breakthroughs such as the $79 Kindle, and expects further growth in the segment as companies like Amazon start selling in more international markets.