Google’s Android mobile operating system (OS) took the greatest tablet OS market share in the first quarter of 2013.
A report from analyst firm IDC claimed Android-based tablets accounted for 56.5% of all slates sold in the three-month period, while Apple’s iOS devices came in second, with 39.6% market share.
However, Apple’s range of iPads ensured it was still the biggest selling individual company, beating IDC’s own shipment prediction to sell 19.5 million in the first quarter of 2013.
"Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than-expected first quarter for Apple," said Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC.
"In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March."
Samsung took second spot when comparing supplier with supplier, shipping 8.8 million units over the same period.
Microsoft broke into the top five for the first time – taking fifth spot – having shipped 900,000 of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. However, other suppliers using Windows 8 or Windows RT on their devices struggled to make much of a success of it, selling the same number put together as Microsoft on its own.
Ryan Reith, programme manager for IDC’s mobility tracker programme, said: "Recent rumours have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market. However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed.”
“Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges centre around consumer messaging and lower cost competition.
"If these challenges are addressed – along with the desired screen size variations – then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."
Total tablets sales from all suppliers came to 49.2 million, more than all the tablets sold in the first six months of 2012. IDC claimed this figure represented a 142.4% year on year growth in sales, adding: “Tablets have shown no sign of slowing down.”