IDC just released its Q4 2011 report on tablet shipments and Apple continues to lead the market with 54.7-percent of global market share despite being down from 61.5-percent in the quarter before. Apple did increase shipments to 15.4 million units in Q4 (up from 11.1 million in Q3), but experienced an overall decrease in market share thanks to strong gains from Amazon’s Kindle Fire and other Android devices from competitors such as Samsung.

Kindle Fire is now the iPad’s biggest competitor with 16.8-percent of the tablet market due to 4.7 million units shipped during Q4, which is followed by Samsung with 5.8-percent of the market (up from 5.5-percent in Q3). IDC noted Apple’s results for the quarter represent “an increase of 110.5-percent from 4Q10.” The Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble came in fourth, but it fell slightly to 3.5-percent of the market (from 4.5-percent the quarter before). Pandigital took the No. 5 spot, but it is down from 2.9-percent to 2.5-percent market share.

As for iOS vs. Android, IDC is expecting Android to overtake iOS for global market share by 2015 and noted that Android now has 44.6-percent of the market as of Q4 2011. That resulted in a decrease for iOS, which fell from 61.6-percent to 54.7-during the quarter. As we noted before, IDC’s report accounts for tablet shipments and not actual sales. We know Apple typically sells as many new devices as it can make, and the same cannot be said for devices shipped by all Android vendors. Research Director at IDC’s Mobile Connected Devices Tom Mainelli talked about the report:

“Amazon’s widely-reported entry into the media tablet market with a $199, 7-inch product seemed to raise consumers’ awareness of the category worldwide despite the fact that the Fire shipped almost exclusively in the U.S. in the fourth quarter. As a result, products across the pricing spectrum sold well, including everything from Apple’s premium-priced iPads (which start at $499) to Pandigital’s line of Android-based, entry-level tablets (which start at $120). The success of market leader Apple was particularly noteworthy, as the company’s shipment total for the quarter represents an increase of 110.5% from 4Q10.”

On that note, it is important to remember going forward that Apple’s iPad pricing strategy changed. Apple now has the iPad 2 starting at $399 (as low as $360 in some cases), and the original iPad available on the U.S. refurbished store goes for as low as $299. Apple’s “premium-priced” iPads are now up to $200 cheaper than before. in the case of the iPad 1, it is only $100 more than a Kindle Fire.

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