Apple dominated the global tablet market last quarter on the back of record sales and reclaimed a massive lead over rivals, a research firm said today.

The Cupertino, Calif. company's share of all tablet sales jumped 44 percent in the second quarter over the previous three-month stretch, said IHS iSuppli. Apple's iPad accounted for 70 percent of the 24.4 million tablets sold in the period ending 30 June. In the first quarter, the iPad owned a 58 percent share of the market.

Apple's 70 percent share was its best showing in iSuppli's tracking since the first quarter of 2011.

Apple posted record iPad sales in the second quarter, with the 17 million sold, representing an 84 percent increase over the same quarter of 2011.

"Apple is making all the right moves to rebuild its dominant position in the tablet space," said Rhoda Alexander, iSuppli's director of tablet and monitor research, in an emailed statement. "With the expected entrance of the 7-inch version of the iPad in September, Apple is sending a clear message that it plans to dominate this market over the long term."

All told, Apple has sold approximately 85 million iPads since the tablet's April 2010 introduction.

In iSuppli's accounting, Korean company Samsung was a distant second for the quarter, selling 2.3 million tablets of all types, less than one-seventh as many as Apple, to collect a 9.2 percent share.

Amazon, Asus and Barnes & Noble rounded out the top 5 sellers, although their combined sales didn't equal Samsung's. Amazon's sales fell 13 percent quarter-over-quarter, while those by Barnes & Noble, the bookseller that struck a £386 million (US$605 million) deal with Microsoft last April over the former's Nook business, plunged 25 percent.

Apple faces competition from new players - Google and its £130 (US$199) Nexus 7, Microsoft and its not-yet-priced Surface tablets - noted Alexander. But she saw no hint that the market leader was backing off what she called its "aggressive strategy."

That strategy will be put to the test next month if, as most analysts expect, Apple unveils a smaller tablet. Dubbed the "iPad Mini" by most, the device will reportedly boast a 7.85-in. screen and cost £159 (US$249) to £191 (US$299), or £63.80 (US$100) to £96 (US$150) less than the now-discounted iPad 2 from 2011.

It's going to be tough to push Apple out of the top spot, even if it doesn't scale down the iPad.

"iSuppli's ... research shows that satisfied users are likely to go back to the same brand for their next purchase," said Alexander of the tablet market. "In all likelihood, Apple already has developed a solid future customer base, which will continue to strengthen, barring a major stumble on an upcoming product release."

iSuppli's sales and market share estimates were in line with those from rival research firm IDC two weeks ago. Because IDC pegged worldwide tablet sales at a half million higher than iSuppli, its guess on Apple's share was slightly lower. IDC estimated Samsung's sales at a higher number of 2.4 million, giving it a larger share of 9.6 percent.