Apple's iPad (IW 500/14) outmuscled its Android-powered tablet computer rivals in early 2012, in a global market suffering from post-holiday hangover, a survey showed May 3.

Global shipments of tablet devices and e-readers slumped 38.4% in the first three months of 2012 to 17.4 million, compared with a fourth quarter pumped up by the holiday gift-giving season, according to research firm IDC.

But year-over-year, tablet sales were up a whopping 120%, in a market shifting away from desktop and laptop computers.

"Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season," said Tom Mainelli of IDC.

"Apple's move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well."

Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, as its worldwide share rose to 68% from 54.7%.

Amazon saw a precipitous drop to 4% of the market, compared with 16.8% in the fourth quarter, and slipped to third place overall.