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iPad still king, but more customers eyeing Android tablets

Android-based tablets will continue to gain in popularity next year, but Apple will still hold on to more than half of the global tablet market in 2013, according to new stats from IDC.

IDC predicts that Android tablets will capture 42.7 per cent of the market this year, up from 39.8 per cent last year.

"The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space," Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement.

"Android tablet shipments will certainly act as the catalyst for growth in the low-cost segment in emerging markets given the platform's low barrier to entry on manufacturing. At the same time, top-tier companies like Samsung, Lenovo, and Asus are all launching Android tablets with comparable to premium products, but offered at much lower price points."

IDC didn't break out which Android devices will be most popular with consumers, but pointed to Google, Amazon, and Samsung as some of the manufacturers capturing buyers' interest. Google has its Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, while Amazon has the Kindle Fire lineup, and Samsung has rolled out Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note slates.

Apple's share of the tablet market will drop slightly this year, from 56.3 per cent in 2011 to 53.8 per cent in 2012, but the iPad mini has only just made its debut. Apple should expect "a strong holiday season," IDC said.

Windows 8-based devices aren't expected to make a huge dent in the 2012 tablet market, IDC said. But over time, the OS will grab some share from iOS and Android, jumping from 1 per cent of the market last year to 2.9 per cent this year and 10.2 per cent by 2016.

Strong demand for tablets prompted IDC to increase its overall tablet sale prediction for 2012 from 117.1 million to 122.3 million.

All of this, meanwhile, doesn't bode well for standalone e-readers. "Most buyers are gravitating toward multi-use tablet products and finding a 'good enough' reading experience on these traditional back-lit tablets," IDC said.