According to analysis from ABI research released on Monday, strong interest in Apple's third-generation iPad helped the company maintain a nearly 65 percent share of the tablet sector which grew to 18.2 million worldwide shipments by the end of the first quarter.
Samsung shipped 1.1 million tablets during the first three months of 2012, returning to the South Korean giant to the number two spot and displacing Amazon's Kindle which saw sales peter out after enjoying a strong holiday quarter.
?A pattern similar to smartphones is also occurring in tablets,? said Jeff Orr, group director of consumer research at ABI. ?Apple and Samsung have demonstrated staying power while other tablet vendors ebb and flow like the tide.?
Apple managed to hold a majority of shipments after the company released a Retina Display-sporting model and dropped the price of the held over iPad 2 in March. Since the iPhone maker first introduced its tablet in 2010 over 67 million units have shipped worldwide.
Despite shipping more than 8 times as many 3G-enabled units than its nearest competitor, Apple can't claim the crown of having the most mobile broadband users as iPad owners seem content to stay on Wi-Fi. It is unclear what is driving this statistic, but some assume that wireless carrier plan pricing may be a factor.
Overall, the worldwide tablet was hit with a 33 percent sequential loss in shipments from the fourth quarter of 2011, though a year-over-year analysis showed a 185 percent gain for the sector. Of the major brand-name OEMs only RIM and Lenovo managed quarter-to-quarter increases with 233 percent and 107 percent, respectively.
A number of manufacturers like Dell, HP and LG are readying Android 4.0 products for mid-year launches that are expected to fight over market share with upcoming tablets running on Microsoft's new Windows 8 platform.
Apple recently received a green light to sell the iPad in China which is likely to boost sales substantially. The company is also rumored to be preparing a smaller 7-inch version of the device later this year.