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Research: Nearly 67 Million Tablets Sold Globally in 2011

Despite record sales of Apple's iPad, the Android platform had a record 39% share of the 26.8 million tablet units sold worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics. Overall, Apple iOS maintained its strong leadership position with 58% share for the fourth quarter.

The report also noted that 66.9 million total tablets were sold in 2011 worldwide, a huge 260% spike from 18.6 million units in 2010. The research company does not include e-books in its sales figures for tablets.

In contrast, the Consumer Electronics Association has reported that about 260 million TV sets were sold worldwide in 2011. Unlike tablets, however, TV set sales are expected to rise only slightly to 262 million units in 2012.

"Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, surging 150% from 10.7 million" in the fourth quarter of 2010 noted Peter King, director at Strategy Analytics in a statement, with strong demand from consumers, businesses and educational users. "Apple shipped a robust 15.4 million iPads worldwide and maintained its strong market leadership with 58% share during the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android models this quarter."

Still, Neil Mawston, executive director at strategy Analytics, added that "Android captured a record 39 percent share of global tablet shipments in Q4 2011, rising from 29 percent a year earlier. Global Android tablet shipments tripled annually to 10.5 million units. Dozens of Android models distributed across multiple countries by numerous brands such as Amazon, Samsung, Asus and others have been driving volumes. Android is so far proving relatively popular with tablet manufacturers despite nagging concerns about fragmentation of Android's operating system, user-interface and app store ecosystem."

Meanwhile, Microsoft captured a niche 1% global tablet share in fourth quarter, which will make the upcoming release of Windows 8 later this year particularly important for the company's efforts to scramble back into the rapidly growing tablet business.