Android-based tablet computers grew their share nearly 10-fold to 22 per cent in global tablet shipments during the December quarter compared to the previous quarter, eating market leader Apple's share, market researcher Strategy Analytics said.
Global tablet shipments rose to 9.7 million units in the last quarter of 2010, up 120 per cent from 4.4 million units in the third quarter.
Apple continued to be the leader in the tablet market but its share declined as competition grew from tablets based on Google's operating system Android.
Apple's iPad recorded an impressive 75 per cent global marketshare during the fourth quarter, but it slipped from a peak of 95 per cent in Q3 2010 due to rising competition from Android, Director at Strategy Analytics Peter King said.
Apple shipped 7.3 million tablets in the fourth quarter, a 74 per cent gain from the previous three-month period when it had shipped 4.2 million units. Apple's iPad has sold more than 14.8 million units worldwide since its introduction in April last year.
Shipments of Android devices jumped to 2.1 million units, up from about 100,000 in the third quarter of 2010.
Android devices captured a 22 per cent share of the global tablet shipments in the last quarter of 2010, the city-based researcher said.
"The Samsung Galaxy Tab was the main driver of Android's success, as the model was launched in dozens of countries and promoted heavily by Samsung. Tablet makers like Android because of its perceived low cost and an accompanying range of compelling media services such as YouTube and Google Maps," Director at Strategy Analytics Neil Mawston said.
The market researcher said it expected Android to increase its share of the global tablet market during the first half of 2011.
Several models from major vendors are scheduled to hit retail stores, such as the Motorola Xoom.
"The growing base of tablets will make Android a more attractive platform for media developers in the United States and worldwide," it added.