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IDC: iPad loses market share as competitors close in

Apple is still the No. 1 tablet vendor, but its Android counterparts are really the ones pushing market growth, a new study shows.

Josh Miller/CNET
Apple may still rule the tablet market, but its Android competitors are gaining on the iPad, according to new data released by research firm IDC.

The study, released Wednesday, says that the overall market for tablets grew 7 percent in the third quarter, with tablet shipments hitting 47.6 million units worldwide. The driving force behind that growth? The momentum of Android tablets.

The iPad still leads the market with a 29.6 percent share. But Samsung, its most formidable hardware competitor, is closely tailing it at 20.4 percent. It's a starkly closer race than this time last year, when Apple had 40.2 percent of the market, and Samsung had 12.4 percent. Asus, Lenovo, and Acer -- which round out the top five vendors -- also made gains.

IDC noted that part of Apple's decreased market share -- its lowest to date -- is due to the company's decision to move its product launches from earlier in the year to the fourth quarter. But with the newly introduced iPad Air being released Friday, and the iPad Mini with Retina Display hitting the market later in the month, the research firm expects Apple to bounce back.