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Samsung has regained the #2 spot in the fast growing tablet market after the Amazon Kindle fizzled.The big winner is Apple who continued to lead the market with nearly 65% of worldwide units and surpassed 67 million cumulative shipments in its first eight quarters of availability, according to ABI REsearch.

Overall more than 18.2 million tablets were shipped the first quarter of 2012, which represents a 185% YoY gain and a -33% sequential loss in shipments.

Apple’s 11.8 million iPad shipments were spurred by the launch of a third-generation lineup and price reduction on iPad 2 models, while Samsung’s 1.1 million shipments returned the vendor to the number two spot after Amazon’s Kindle Fire shipments fizzled entering 2012.

“A pattern similar to smartphones is also occurring in tablets,” says Jeff Orr, group director, consumer research. “Apple and Samsung have demonstrated staying power while other tablet vendors ebb and flow like the tide.”  

Only two leading branded tablet OEMs – RIM (233%) and Lenovo (107%) – bucked the downward first quarter shipment trends, while Taiwan’s ASUS remained flat sequentially from 4Q’2011.  Several vendors, including Dell, HP, and LG are currently retooling tablet portfolios for mid-year launches of Android 4.0 along with the much anticipated Windows 8 slates debuting later in 2012.

ABI said Apple’s iPad can’t claim the highest mobile broadband (3G/4G) attach rate for media tablets, though Apple retains its title of shipping the most 3G-enabled tablets by outpacing the number two competitor by a factor of eight.

“The majority of iPad buyers continue to be satisfied with Wi-Fi wireless coverage,” adds Orr. The leading model shipments and the ongoing challenges mobile operators face in convincing iPad owners to even try the mobile broadband connectivity once are expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

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