Apple maintained its lead in the worldwide tablet market in the third quarter of 2014 despite a constant decline in the shipments of its flagship iPad product line, according to a report by International Data Corporation, or IDC. The latest numbers suggest that leading vendors continue to dominate the tablet market in the face of growing competition from low-cost rivals.

Although shipments of the iPad fell in the three-month period ending Sept. 30, Apple retained its number one position by shipping 12.3 million units in the third quarter and accounting for a 22.8 percent share of the market. Samsung was also able to maintain second place despite a slight decline in its market share compared to last year.

“Although the low-cost vendors are moving a lot of volume, the top vendors, like Apple, continue to rake in the dollars,” Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. “A sub-$100 tablet simply isn't sustainable—Apple knows this—and it's likely the reason they aren't concerned with market share erosion.”

tabletshipmentq3 Worldwide tablet shipments, Q3 2014. Photo: IDC

Despite Apple's recent release of the latest iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Retina display, IDC does not expect the new tablets to do miracles for the Cupertino-based technology giant. Instead, IDC predicts 2014 will be the year of the iPhone, which Apple updated in September with two versions, larger screens and several new features.

As for Samsung, IDC is optimistic about the company’s growing focus on markets such as North America, Middle East and Africa, where low-cost Asian vendors are yet to gain a foothold.

Among other vendors in the top five, Lenovo fell back to fourth position with 3 million units shipped, paving way for Asus to regain its number three position with shipments of 3.5 million units. Next on the list was RCA Corporation, which made it to the top five owing to distribution deals with some of the largest retailers in the world.

“We also saw RCA enter the top 5, impacting the entire US market and worldwide ranking with one large deal linked to back-to-school and channel fill ahead of Black Friday,” Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC's research director for tablets, said in the statement. “Those two elements resulted in the US tablet market growing at 18.5% year-over-year compared to the worldwide market growing at 11.5% annually.”

Overall Growth

The worldwide tablet market grew 11.5 percent annually in the third quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 53.8 million units. And, thanks to back-to-school promotions and the rising demand for connected tablets among U.S. consumers, the July-September quarter also saw shipments grow by 11.2 percent compared to the second quarter.

“Not only is the US market one of the largest for tablets, but third quarter results also indicate that this is where the growth is,” Bouchard said.