Figures released today by Gartner show that the iPad remained the best-selling tablet of 2013, selling more than the combined sales of the four runners-up.

Apple’s strong fourth quarter helped it to maintain the top position in the market in 2013 […]

Apple’s tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple’s approach will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share … 

Apple sold 70.4M iPads last year (up from 61.4M in 2012), while Samsung, ASUS, Amazon and Lenovo only notched-up a little over 64M between them. Samsung took second place, with sales of 37.4M.

Gartner’s headline – and doubtless that of many reports to follow later today – focused on market share.

Gartner Says Worldwide Tablet Sales Grew 68 Percent in 2013, With Android Capturing 62 Percent of the Market

Android Grew 127 Percent and Reached the No. 1 Position in 2013

As we’ve said many times before, market share is not a particularly meaningful measure where Apple is concerned, for two reasons. Firstly, iOS vs Android is one company versus almost every other tablet maker (Windows being almost an irrelevance in this market). Second, Apple is not targeting the whole tablet market, only the top end of it. Seventy million extra low-end tablets dilutes Apple’s market share without costing the company a single cent in lost sales.

Which is why Apple boosted iPad sales by 9M while its market share fell from 52.8 percent to 36 percent.

The numbers did, though, emphasise the importance of the growth markets as the U.S. and Europe approach saturation point.

Gartner analysts said emerging markets recorded growth of 145 per cent in 2013, while mature markets grew 31 percent.

That’s a trend that will be reflected in Apple’s sales as much as those of any other tablet manufacturer.