Android fuels surge in global tablet sales

Global sales of tablet computers surged in the first quarter of 2013, led by Android-powered devices that outpaced gains by Apple's iPads, a research firm said Wednesday.

IDC said the worldwide tablet market saw sizzling growth of 142.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago, with shipments hitting 49.2 million units in the first three months of 2013.

The figure surpassed that of the entire first half of 2012, and was driven by strong demand for smaller-screen devices, such as the iPad mini and Google Nexus 7.

Apple remained the largest single vendor, but its market share slipped to 39.6 percent, from 43.6 percent in the fourth quarter, IDC said, because of slower growth than its rivals using Google's Android operating system.

IDC figures showed Android accounted for 56.5 percent of tablet sales, with red-hot gains of 247 percent for the year.

Microsoft's entry in the market, Surface, produced modest sales of 900,000 in the quarter, including its basic Surface RT and Surface Pro version, according to IDC.

Overall, Windows-powered tablets accounted for sales of 1.8 million, or 3.7 percent of the overall market, the survey showed.

IDC said Apple outperformed its most recent projections for the quarter, shipping 19.5 million units, growth of 65 percent over the year, helped by its iPad mini.

But Samsung produced growth of 282 percent, grabbing a market share of 17.9 percent, IDC said. Taiwan-based Asus, which makes the Google Nexus 7 tablet, moved into third place with a 5.5 percent market share and 350 percent growth.

That dropped Amazon and its Kindle line of tablets, which use a version of Android, to fourth place with a share of 3.7 percent.