The iPad is more than just a content-yielding eReader, and consumers are finally making the distinction.

Analytics firm IDC released new data today illustrating Apple’s global tablet market share having increased dramatically from 2011′s holiday quarter. The firm accredited the iPad’s success to its all-purpose functionality that outshines Android devices’ content.

The iPad rose to 68 percent in Q1 2012 from 54.7-percent in Q4 2011. Apple’s 13.3-percent gain is attributed to the Kindle Fire’s staggering 12.8-percent drop to 4 percent in Q1 2012.

IDC’s Mobile Connected Devices Research Director Tom Mainelli explained the market share differences:

“Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season. [...] Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well.”

Amazon’s steep fall allowed Samsung to recapture the No. 2 position in global tablet shipments. Meanwhile, Lenovo closed the quarter in fourth place with Barnes & Nobles’ Nook sealing the top five.

The IDC said total Android shipments were down sharply, but Samsung and Lenovo were “beginning to gain traction in the market with their latest generation of Android products.” Therefore, the firm is anticipating a quick rebound in the coming quarters.

Mainelli further elaborated:

“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points. [...] We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point, and Google will enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The search giant’s new tablet will run a pure version of Android, whereas the Fire runs Amazon’s own forked version of the OS that cuts Google out of the picture.”

The Kindle Fire’s immediate success in Q4 2011 diminished Apple’s share to fewer than 60 percent. However, it appears Amazon’s initial numbers were short lived, because Apple is continuing to hold its own.