Although Apple experienced another phenomenal quarter as far as iPad sales go, its overall market share fell from 61.5% in Q3 2011 to 54.7% in Q4 2011, largely due to the success of Amazon's Kindle Fire.
According to a new study by IDC, Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads in Q4, a healthy increase from 11.1 million units in Q3 2011. However, Amazon's Kindle Fire debuted with 4.7 million units shipped, which propelled Amazon to second place with a 16.8% market share.
[More from Mashable: Why the iPad 2 is Far More Likely to Break than the Original iPad [INFOGRAPHIC]]
The third largest tablet manufacturer was Samsung, whose market share grew from 5.5% in Q3 to 5.8% in Q4 2011, followed by Barnes & Noble with a 3.5% market share (down from 4.5% in Q3) and Pandigital, which held 2.5% of the market.
Of course, this picture might change significantly in the next quarter as Apple essentially introduced two major products - the new iPad, which starts at $499, and the now lower-priced iPad 2, which starts at $399, making it more appealing to a whole new audience.
[More from Mashable: Mashable Launches Kindle Fire App]
For comparison, Amazon's Kindle Fire costs $199, the same price as Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet. With 7-inch screens, both tablets are smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad, and have considerably weaker specifications, but their price is still significantly lower than that of the new iPad and iPad 2.
Based on the success of Kindle Fire and other Android-based tablets, IDC predicts that Apple's overall market share will diminish in the years to come.
IDC expects Android and iOS to split the tablet market share in half by 2016, with other manufacturers holding a marginally small share.
There's one big player who would very much like IDC's prediction to be wrong: Microsoft. Windows 8-based tablets are coming later in 2012, and they could cause a serious ripple in the market. IDC has a point, though. At this moment, Android and iOS-based tablets are selling by the millions and taking over the market, while Windows 8-tablets are still in their infancy.
BONUS: A Look at the Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle Fire: Main Bookshelf Interface
This story originally published on Mashable here.