IDC has reported that tablet shipments into retail rose by 56 per cent in the last quarter of 2011, to 28.2 million units worldwide - an increase of 155 per cent over the same period in 2010.
While the industry did of course expect good tablet sales, this growth was larger than expected and consequently IDC has now increased its 2012 forecast to a whopping 106.1 million units (previously 87.7 million).
Apple, unsurprisingly, had strong growth in the quarter; it shipped 15.4 million units compared to 11.1 million units the quarter before. Interestingly, however, its market share was down a little, to 54.7 per cent from 61.5 per cent.
Similarly, iOS market share was down from 61.6 per cent to 54.7 per cent, whilst competitor Android made further inroads into the sector, growing from 32.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2011, to 44.6 per cent, thanks in part to the Amazon Kindle Fire. IDC says it expects Android to grow its share of the market even more.
Although the Kindle Fire is not yet available outside of the US, it performed well, shipping 4.7 million units into the market. Furthermore, some speculate that its release may have helped other brands, too.
"Amazon's widely-reported entry into the media tablet market with a $199, 7-inch product seemed to raise consumers' awareness of the category worldwide despite the fact that the Fire shipped almost exclusively in the US in the fourth quarter," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "As a result, products across the pricing spectrum sold well, including everything from Apple's premium-priced iPads to Pandigital's line of Android-based, entry-level tablets."