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Global tablet sales dip as world awaits Apple's new next-gen iPad

Worldwide tablet shipments have slowed as consumers await the next-generation iPad, according to data published by market research firm IDC.

Second-quarter shipments reached a total 45.1 million units — a 9.7 per cent drop from the first quarter of 2013, yet a whopping 59.6 per cent gain over the same period last year, when vendors shipped 28.3 million devices.

"A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors. With no new iPads, the market slowed for many vendors, and that's likely to continue into the third quarter," Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC, said in a statement.

IDC expects fourth-quarter shipment numbers to pick back up with new products from Apple, Amazon, and others set to drive growth in the market. Some vendors have already seen growth on the strength of new products — according to IDC, Lenovo and Acer both re-entered the top five in terms of tablet market share this quarter.

"The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result. Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out what platform strategy will be successful over the long run," said Ryan Reith, programme manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker.

That much is evidenced among the top five tablet vendors for the second quarter, foremost of which was Apple, with 14.6 million units shipped. Samsung (8.1 million units), Asus (two million), Lenovo (1.5 million), and Acer (1.4 million), all makers of tablets running Google's Android mobile operating system, rounded out the top five.

"To date, Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform [for tablets]. However, Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market," Reith said.

Based on IDC's statistics, Android and iOS are the runaway leading software platforms for consumer slates, shipping on a combined 42.8 million units in the second quarter. Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT, meanwhile, powered just 2 million units shipped in the quarter — unsurprising, based on the company's struggles to generate demand for its own Surface devices. BlackBerry pulled up the rear in tablet platform shipments with 100,000.

Google's recently released, second-generation Nexus 7 tablet should help boost the third-quarter numbers for both Android and Asus, the tablet's manufacturer. The 7in tablet went on sale late last month, boasting a slimmer, lighter design than its predecessor while offering a more powerful computing experience and better battery life at a relatively modest price hike.

While not enjoying the same level of global sales as smartphones, tablets certainly pose menacing threat to traditional PC makers. In late May, IDC predicted that tablet shipments will grow 58.7 per cent year-over-year in 2013, reaching 229.3 million units shipped this year, up from 144.5 million in 2012.

Meanwhile, the slumping PC market will likely see negative growth for the second consecutive year, as tablet finally outpace laptops in shipments this year, according to the research firm.