Sales of Android-based tablets more than tripled during the fourth quarter of 2011. But Apple still dominates, even as its market share dropped, according to Strategy Analytics.
Global tablet shipments reached 26.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 150 percent increase from 10.7 million during the same period in 2010.
Consumers are increasingly choosing tablets over netbooks and even entry-level notebooks or desktops, Strategy Analytics said.
Android is picking up momentum, and together vendors backing the operating system shipped 10.5 million units, compared to 3.1 million a year ago. That gives Android a 39.1 percent share of global tablet shipments, compared to 29 percent a year earlier.
Apple's share dropped from 68.2 percent to 57.6 percent, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android-based models. It is inevitable that Apple loses market share as more vendors enter the tablet space, according to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. But its tablet business is still growing at a healthy rate, he said.
Apple shipped 15.4 million tablets during the fourth quarter, up from 7.3 million during the same period last year.
Microsoft captured just 1.5 percent of the tablet market during the last three months of 2011. The upcoming release of Windows 8 later this year can't come quickly enough for Microsoft, allowing its hardware partners to start competing more effectively, according to Strategy Analytics.
66.9 million tablets were shipped during 2011, up 260 percent from 18.6 million in 2010.