Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) led the worldwide market for tablet sales in the fourth quarter of 2013, while annual growth in the overall industry slowed down significantly, according to a new report from the International Data Corporation, or IDC.

The worldwide tablet market saw a strong holiday quarter as shipments grew to 76.9 million units during the period, accounting for a 62.4 percent growth over the previous quarter and a 28.2 percent growth over the same period a year ago. Although the market's growth rates remained impressive, they were down dramatically compared to annual growth rates seen in the same quarter last year (87.1 percent), indicating a significant slowing of the overall market.

“It's becoming increasingly clear that markets such as the U.S. are reaching high levels of consumer saturation and while emerging markets continue to show strong growth this has not been enough to sustain the dramatic worldwide growth rates of years past,” Tom Mainelli, research director at IDC, said in a statement.

In 2013, worldwide tablet shipments added up to 217.1 million units, representing a year-on-year growth rate of 50.6 percent.

Among the leading vendors, Apple once again topped the chart, shipping 26 million units during the quarter, up from 22.9 million in the same period last year. While the quarter turned out to be a successful one for the company, its annual growth of 13.5 percent was well below the industry average.

Apple’s worldwide tablet market share for the fourth quarter grew to 33.8 percent, up from 29.7 percent in the third quarter, but was lower than its 38.2 percent share in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“The numbers bring into focus the challenges the company faces as it attempts to grow its tablet business in markets outside of its traditional mature-market strongholds and in the face of continued success from competitors both large and small,” IDC said.

Samsung (KRX:005935), on the other hand, retained its second-place spot thanks to a wider portfolio of products and increased carrier support in markets like the U.S., grabbing an 18.8 percent share worldwide. Rounding out the top five were Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), ASUS (TPE:2357) and Lenovo (HKG:0992).

Check out the table here:

IDC-tablet-market Top 5 tablet vendors, shipments, and market share, fourth quarter 2013. Photo: IDC