Worldwide tablet shipments surged by 142.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2013, according to preliminary data from IDC.
Tablet shipments totaled 49.2 million units in the first quarter, already surpassing the volumes shifted during the entire first half of 2012.
Apple was the top vendor, shipping 19.5 million units, compared to a forecast of 18.7 million units.
Tom Mainelli, research director on tablets at IDC, said that by moving the new iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.
Runner-up Samsung also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments over the fourth quarter as more of the company's smaller-sized tablets began to gain traction in the market.
ASUS moved into the No. 3 spot as it continued to see decent tablet shipment demand from the highly marketed Nexus 7 device. Amazon fell to No. 4, once again the victim of a highly seasonal product cycle.
Microsoft, which is a focal point for many in the tablet space, entered the top five for the first time as shipments of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets combined for a total of nearly 900,000 units.
However, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market. Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units.