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iPad continues to dominate in Q1 as Kindle Fire withers

There's still not a lot to like about the tablet business if you're not Apple.

Apple's iPad continues to lead the tablet market, while demand for Amazon's Kindle Fire has died down considerably, according to a ABI Research report.

The tablet market in general grew 185 percent since last year, with the industry shipping 18.2 million devices in the first quarter of this year.

Apple accounted for 11.8 million of those shipments, or 65 percent of the market. That's largely thanks to the launch of Apple's third-generation iPad and a price reduction on iPad 2 models.

In contrast, Samsung Electronics shipped 1.1 million tablets. That puts the company back in the number two spot after Amazon's Kindle Fire shipments "fizzled" going into 2012, the report said.

Jeff Orr, ABI Research group director of consumer research, said this is the smartphones trend reincarnated. "Apple and Samsung have demonstrated staying power while other tablet vendors ebb and flow like the tide," he said in a statement.

Only two manufacturers saw shipments increase in the first quarter: Research in Motion and Lenovo. RIM grew 233 percent, while Lenovo grew 107 percent, both off much lower bases than Apple. Shipments for Taiwan's Asus remained flat from the end of last year.

Meanwhile, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and LG are retooling their tablet portfolios for mid-year launches of Android 4.0 and, later this year, the highly anticipated Windows 8.

The report also notes that tablet users don't seem to mind only having a 3G connection right now, but Apple will have to keep up the progress in order to bring on more users, as the iPad doesn't have the highest mobile-broadband "attach rate" -- i.e., the greatest percentage of tablets that come with cellular-data connections.

Apple has, however, shipped the greatest number of 3G-enabled tablets, outpacing Samsung eight to one. "The majority of iPad buyers continue to be satisfied with Wi-Fi wireless coverage," adds Orr.

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