In total, Samsung shipped 5.1 million tablets worldwide in 3Q12, up 115 per cent from 2Q12, said IDC in its Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.
Samsung's growth "represents the first time a competitor has attained this level of share since the original launch of the iPad", said Ryan Reith, program manager, IDC's Mobile Device Trackers.
Amazon, which did not have product in 3Q11, announced new 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets late in the quarter, and began shipping the new 7-inch HD version (in addition to a refreshed version of the original 7-inch Fire) in mid-September. This helped grow its worldwide market share from 4.8 per cent in 2Q12 to 9.0 per cent in 3Q12, despite only shipping in the US. (The company began shipping into five additional countries in 4Q12).
Apple saw slow growth in the third quarter as both consumer and commercial shipments declined in anticipation of the launch of the iPad Mini, said Tom Mainelli, research director, 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."
As a result, Apple saw its market share slip from 65.5 per cent in 2Q12 to 50.4 per cent in 3Q12.
"Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter," said Mainelli. "However, we believe the mini's relatively high US$329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter."
Overall, the tablet market has grown nearly 60 per cent year on year in 3Q2012 and 6.7 per cent over the second quarter of 2012 to total 27.8 million units, said IDC.
After Apple, Samsung and Amazon (in that order) the rest of the top five tablet vendors are rounded out by Asus and Lenovo.
Asus' share of growth was backed by strong shipments of its Google-branded Nexus 7 device; Lenovo's gains were driven by strong shipments in China, noted IDC.
"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 US$500."