In a new quarterly report tracking the burgeoning tablet and e-reader markets, technology research firm IDC said tablet shipments grew 45% in the third quarter to 4.8 million worldwide. The iPad continues to own the segment, accounting for a full 90% of tablets shipped.
With the arrival of the Galaxy Tab and host of competing devices coming this year from Motorola, Research in Motion and other manufacturers, though, Apple's market share is likely to contract in 2011.
IDC projects tablet shipments worldwide to nearly triple to 44.6 million this year from 17 million in 2010, and to hit 70.8 million in 2012. Growth in 2011 and beyond will be driven by vendors launching media tablets based on Android and other operating systems, as well as price and feature competition, and strong demand from both consumers and business users.
Among the most anticipated devices are Motorola's Xoom, unveiled at CES this month and based on the latest version of Android, dubbed Honeycomb, and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, aimed at the corporate market.
In the e-reader market, Amazon wasn't quite as dominant as Apple in tablets, but still claimed 41.5% of the category, with 1.1 million Kindles shipped in the quarter, according to IDC. Amazon said late last month that the Kindle 3 had become the best-selling product in the company's history, but still hasn't disclosed how exactly many of the devices it has sold to date.
Pandigital, which makes the Novel e-readers, was quietly runner-up to Amazon during the quarter, with a 16.1% share, followed closely by Barnes & Noble, whose Nook claimed 15.4% of the market.
IDC noted that Barnes & Noble likely had a good fourth quarter based on its strong brand, competitive pricing, and the introduction of a color version of the Nook in the quarter. The company itself said earlier this month that Nook sales were strong over the holiday season. Meanwhile, Sony, with just over 200,000 of its Reader devices shipped in Q3, was a distant fourth behind Barnes & Noble, with 8.4% share.