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Why the iPad Is Still Best-in-Class

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even though Wall Street is concerned with the iPad slowing down, Apple is still far and away best-in-class in the tablet market.

Research firm IDC released its state of the tablet market in a new survey, noting the market contracted sharply in the first quarter from the fourth quarter of 2013, and rose just 3.9% from the year-ago quarter to 50.4 million units.

The tablet market is being impacted by the rise in larger-screen smartphones, most notably Samsung's Galaxy S4 and S5, which run on Google's Android operating system.

"The rise of large-screen phones and consumers who are holding on to their existing tablets for ever longer periods of time were both contributing factors to a weaker-than-anticipated quarter for tablets and 2-in-1s," said Tom Mainelli, IDC program vice president, devices and displays, in a press release. "In addition, commercial growth has not been robust enough to offset the slowing of consumer shipments."

Despite the sharply lower-than-expected growth in the tablet market, Apple still holds the lead, owning 32.5% of the market, down from 33.2% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

On Apple's fiscal second-quarter earnings call, CEO Timothy D. Cook noted the reasons for the slowdown in sales.

"First, in the March quarter last year, we significantly increased iPad channel inventory, while this year we significantly reduced it," Cook said on the earnings call. He also noted that last year, in the December quarter, there was a "substantial backlog with iPad mini that was subsequently shipped in the March quarter," whereas this year Apple had a supply and demand balance.

Despite this perceived slowdown, Cook noted Apple continues to believe the tablet market will surpass the PC market in scale.

"We continue to believe that the tablet market will surpass the PC market in size within the next few years and we believe that Apple will be a major beneficiary of this trend," the CEO said.

Behind Apple was Samsung, which saw its share of the market increase to 22.3% from 17.2%. IDC noted Samsung is taking share by bundling its tablets with smartphones via promotions. Making up the rest of the top five were ASUS (5%), Lenovo (4.1%) and Amazon (1.9%), with its Kindle Fire series.

 See Also: Apple Gives the Mac a Boost

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-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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