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New studies, Q1 results show iPad continues to dominate tablet market

The iPad is still king in the tablet market, according to two separate research reports.

Apple held its lead in the first quarter of 2012, carrying almost 65 per cent of worldwide tablet units, and surpassing 67 million cumulative shipments in the iPad's first eight quarters of availability, according to ABI Research. The launch of Apple's new iPad and an iPad 2 price reduction resulted in 11.8 million shipments in Q1.

Independent survey research firm ChangeWave Research, meanwhile, conducted its own study, surveying almost 3,000 North American consumers, and found similar results: the Apple iPad dominated consumer buying plans.

The only other manufacturer that showed signs of momentum, ChangeWave said, was Samsung. The company's 1.1 million Galaxy Tab shipments returned the vendor to the second spot in the first quarter, ABI said, after Amazon's Kindle Fire sales fizzled earlier this year.

In the first quarter, the media tablet market shipped 18.2 million devices, which was a 185 per cent year-over-year gain but a 33 per cent quarter-over-quarter drop, according to ABI.

Jeff Orr, group director of ABI consumer research, said in an ABI press release that tablets are seeing a sales pattern similar to smartphones. "Apple and Samsung have demonstrated staying power while other tablet vendors ebb and flow like the tide," he said.

The iPad does not have the highest mobile broadband (3G/4G) attach rate for media tablets, ABI reported, with most iPad owners tapping into Wi-Fi for wireless coverage. Apple did, however, ship the most 3G-enabled tablets, outpacing its nearest competitor by a factor of eight.

A number of tablet vendors, including Dell, HP, and LG are currently retooling products for mid-year launches of Android 4.0 and Windows 8 later in 2012, according to ABI.

In the aftermath of the 2011 holiday shopping season, and March's new iPad release, ChangeWave's May survey showed overall tablet demand back at normal levels, with 7 per cent of respondents expecting to buy a tablet in the next 90 days.

Of those consumers, 73 per cent reported they are likely to purchase an iPad, showing "a clear sign that Apple's massive domination of the market is continuing going forward," ChangeWave's research said.