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New data from IDC suggest that Apple’s dominance of the global tablet computer market may be giving way. Competing tablet makers, led by Samsung, gained substantial ground during the third quarter of 2012.

Apple’s market share dropped from 65 percent in the second quarter to just over 50 percent in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Samsung’s share doubled to 18 percent, and Amazon and Asus each saw their share rise from under five percent to around nine percent.

As is evident from the graph above, it’s too early to tell how quickly the market is diversifying. Apple’s lag was at least partly due to rumors about its plans to release the iPad Mini, which led some consumers to hold off on buying a new iPad, according to IDC. Now that the Mini is out, analysts expect Apple to have a strong fourth quarter.

The iPad Mini’s $329 starting price, however, is well above that of many Android tablets, which is why IDC’s analysts believe there is “plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter.”

Android-powered smartphones are already more popular than Apple’s iPhone in the U.S. as well as other countries, like China (See How the Chinese Smartphone Market Shapes the Battle for Global Dominance).

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Tagged: Computing, Business, Google, Apple, Samsung, Android, Amazon, iPad, iOS, tablets, Kindle, Apple/Samsung

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