Samsung gains tablet market share as Apple lead narrows

image captionApple and Samsung are also involved in various legal battles over claims of patent infringement

Samsung doubled its share of the tablet PC market in the last three months of 2012, research firm IDC has said.

Samsung, which makes the Galaxy range of tablets, sold 7.9 million units, up from 2.2 million a year ago, taking its market share to 15.1%.

Market-leader and iPad-maker Apple saw its share slide to 43.6% from 51.7%, despite also seeing a jump in sales.

The two have been competing to get a greater share of the tablet PC market, seen as key to their overall growth.

Global shipments of tablet PCs surged 75% in the final quarter of 2012 to a record 52.5 million units.

"We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn't disappoint," said Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC.

"New product launches from the category's top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season."

The numbers are in sharp contrast with the traditional personal computer market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years.

Growing competition

The tablet PC market is expected to grow further in the coming years.

A number of firms have launched tablets in an attempt to cash in on the booming sector.

Among the latest entrants has been Microsoft, which launched its Surface tablets, powered by the Windows 8 system, late last year.

However, IDC said that the response to the firm's tablets was "muted at best". Microsoft shipped nearly 900,000 unit in the three months to end of December.

IDC said that higher prices of its products had hurt Microsoft's sales.

However, it added that the firm was likely be a key player in the sector in the long term.

"There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul," said Ryan Reith, program manager of Mobile Device Trackers at IDC.

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