Google Nexus 7 tablet

Android tablets have overtaken Apple's iPad to take the majority of tablet market share.

Tablets powered by Google's Android OS were more popular than Apple's iPad and iPad mini during the first quarter of the year. According to IDC's latest stats, Android made up 56.5 percent compared to 39.6 percent of iOS. See also Group test: what's the best cheap tablet PC?

This time last year, iOS had a 58.1 percent share compared to Android's 39.4 percent. Both have grown but Google's much more at a whopping 247.5 percent.

IDC said: "Tablet shipments totalled 49.2 million units in 1Q13, surpassing that of the entire first half of 2012. With growth fuelled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down."

Overall growth of the tablet market was 142.4 percent compared with the first quarter of 2012. The news comes after BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins, predicted tablets would be dead in five years' time.

"In five years I don’t think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore. Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model." said Heins.

Apple remains the top vendor, however, with a total of 19.5 million units shipped during the quarter, higher than IDC's estimate of 18.7 million.

"Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple," said Tom Mainelli, a Research Director at IDC.

Samsung took second place with 8.8 million units shipped. IDC said the Korean giant's smartphone growth has helped its tablet business, often bundling the two together. Asus took third place from Amazon thanks to sustained demand for the Google Nexus 7.

Microsoft took fifth spot with the launch of its Surface tablets. The software giant shipped 900,000 units, most of which were Surface Pro which has only been available in the US and Canada. The tablet will launch in the UK and other countries this month.

"Beyond the Surface products, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market. Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units." added IDC.

There are rumours that Microsoft will launch a smaller 7in version of Surface but IDC thinks this won't be the firm's saving grace. "Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges centre around consumer messaging and lower cost competition." said Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker program.

"If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond." he added.