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Android tablets catching up on iPad as slate sales double

Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire are eating into the iPad's dominance, as total tablet sales double.

Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire are eating into the iPad's dominance of the market, as total tablet sales double.

308.7 million smart phones, tablets, and laptops were sold in the first three months of the year, according to new figures from Canalys.

Tablet sales are the fastest-growing part of the mobile device market, with sales of slates climbing 106.1 percent over the past year. 41.9 million tablets have flown off shelves this year.

The iPad and iPad mini make up 46.4 per cent of tablets sold, but that number has been falling for nearly a year. With the coming of the bargain-tastic Google Nexus 7, the popularity of the Amazon Kindle Fire and the proliferation of the Samsung Galaxy Tab range, Android is making a serious comeback. The days when the iPad was the only tablet worth owning are long gone.

It's interesting that the tablets that trouble the iPad, the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, are both smaller tablets than the iPad. They're cheaper alternatives that are still great in their own right, but their success even drove Apple to introduce its own smaller cheaper model in the iPad mini. But even after that move by Apple, Android slates continue to eat into iPad sales.

Conversely, sales of laptops fell 13 per cent, shifting 50.5m portable computers. Some industry figures have even gone so far as to blame Microsoft's new operating system Windows 8 for falling sales as customers are slow to warm to the bold new look of the software, but it's clear that many customers are simply turning to tablets instead of getting a cheap laptop or netbook.

In terms of operating systems, Android leads the way with 59.5 per cent of sales. Apple's iPhone and iPad takes up 19.3 per cent of sales, and Microsoft trails with 18.1 percent of sales -- which of course comes from the sale of laptops with Windows on board, 'cos it sure-as-shootin' ain't from sales of Windows Phone.

Have you replaced your laptop with a tablet? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.