According to IDC, Apple shipped 22.9 million iPad units to lead the tablet computer field in the final quarter of 2012. However, the company’s marketshare dipped from 52 percent a year previous to 44 percent.

Meanwhile, Samsung saw a 263 per cent year-on-year sales growth for its Android and Windows 8 tablets equaling almost 8 million units. The company acquired 15.1 percent of the market during Q4 2012, more than double the 7.3 percent it had one year previous.

“New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season,” said IDC’s research director for tablets, Tom Mainelli. “The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years.”

By contrast, Microsoft’s Surface with Windows RT tablet shipped just 900,000 units during the launch quarter. This put Microsoft squarely outside of the top 5 hardware vendors.

“We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices,” added IDC’s Ryan Reith. “In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes.”