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Tablet shipments in 2012 are now expected to top 106 million following stronger than expected growth in Q4 2011 sales, researcher IDC says. IDC had previously forecast shipments of 87.7 million units in the year.

Analysts apart from IDC are tipping Apple to sell at least 64 million tablets in 2012, leaving only a small percentage of the market for each of the many other contenders who just split the remaining 26 percent or so of the market

IDC said tablet shipments into sales channels rose by 56.1 percent sequentially in Q4 2011 to 28.2 million units worldwide. That was an increase of 155 percent from Q4 2010.

The stronger-than-expected growth across many regions saw a full-year total of 68.7 million shipments for 2011.

Despite an “impressive” debut by Amazon, which shipped 4.7 million Kindle Fires into the US market, it was Apple that continued to see strong growth in the quarter, IDC said, shipping 15.4 million units – three times more than the much cheaper Amazon – in Q4, up from 11.1 million units in 3Q11.

Still, Amazon’s shipment total put the company in second place with just 16.8 percent of the worldwide market, despite the fact that it’s largely confined to North America.

Third-place Samsung, which is global, saw its share creep up from 5.5 percent in Q3 to just 5.8 percent in Q4.

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