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iPad still strong in first quarter of 2012, but Android tablet shipments dropped, says IDC

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IDC reports a sharper than expected drop in tablet sales after the holidays, along with a market share growth for Apple and a drop for the Kindle Fire

ipad start
ipad start

The new iPad is doing well, but it looks like other tablets and e-readers aren't as popular this quarter worldwide. The latest research from IDC suggests that total tablet and e-reader sales declined much more than expected after the holidays, shipping 17.4 million, a drop of 38.4 percent instead of the expected 34 percent between the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. 11.8 million of those were iPads, which made up 68 percent of tablet shipments this quarter as opposed to 54.7 percent in winter 2011.

In the Android world, things are less rosy, although Apple's sales were doubtless boosted by the new iPad's release. IDC reports that Samsung's tablets took second place in market share worldwide, and Amazon is apparently now in third with only about 4 percent of market share. That's a big drop from the holiday season, when it was in second place at 16.8 percent. It's also a considerable disparity with what we've heard from the US, where the Kindle Fire has grown to over half of Android tablet market share, so either there's a difference in methodology or the international tablet market has grown enough to overtake the US-only Kindle Fire. Lenovo and Barnes & Noble round out the top five.

The global tablet market may not be doing as well as expected, but it's still growing solidly: this year saw a 120 percent increase from the same quarter in 2011. Tablets don't show any signs of a permanent slowdown, and we'll also have the release of the first Windows models later this year, as well as a new crop of Android tablets to compete with the iPad.