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Apple extended its lead in the tablet market during the first three months of the year, as much because of a slump in sales of rival product as the arrival of the iPad 3.

So said market watcher IDC today, pointing the finger at Amazon, which, it claimed, shipped just 750,000 Kindle Fire tablets in Q1, down from 4.8m in the previous quarter.

You'd expect a drop: the January to March period is never going to match the Christmas - and, in the US, Thanksgiving - quarter.

Indeed, Apple's sales were lower: 15.4m iPads in Q4 2011 but only 11.8m in Q1 2012.

IDC characterised the fall in shipments of Android-based fondleslabs as a "steep drop".

Amazon's decline, which saw its share of the market drop from 16.8 per cent to four per cent, helped lift Apple's from 54.7 per cent to 68 per cent.

That allowed Samsung to take the number two slot, Amazon dropping to third place. Lenovo took fourth, Barnes & Noble fifth.

The fact that two of the top five - Amazon and B&N - only sell tablets in the US is a clear sign how big that market is - and, as another market watcher, Canalys, noted yesterday, how economically depressed Europe is.

Overall, 17.5m tablets shipped during Q1, IDC said. That represents a year-over-year growth rate of 120 per cent on the 7.9m units shipped during Q2 2011. ®

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