Android Dominates as Tablet Sales Soar . / Credit: Media tablets image via Shutterstock

Tablet computer sales went on a tear in the first quarter this year hitting 49.2 million shipments, a 142 percent increase year over year, the latest data show. With growth fueled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down. And so far, Android is outgunning rival tablet operating systems.

While Android tablets, including low-budget white box versions dominated the market, Apple iOS tablets—the largest single vendor of tablets— outpaced  original forecasts for the first quarter, shipping 19.5 million iPads and iPad minis, according to IDC,  a information technology research firm.

But Apple couldn't keep up with the combined shipments of all Android makers, who shipped 27.8 million units, up 247 percent over the 8 million shipped in the first quarter 2012.

In the first quarter, Android grabbed a 56.5 percent market share, compared to a 39.6 share for iOS, IDC said.

Samsung finished the quarter as the second largest vendor of tablets with 8.8 million shipped, an increase of 280 percent over the 2.3 million shipped a year earlier.

Asus hit the third place by shipping 2.7 million tablets, up from 600,000 a year earlier –a 350 percent increase. Asus makes the Google 7 tablet, which has been highly marketed, IDC said. 

Amazon finished fourth with 1.8 million tablets shipped, or 3.7 percent of the total.

Microsoft tablets entered the top five for the first time with shipments of nearly 900,000 Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. The latter began shipping in The U.S. and Canada in February over a period of less than a full quarter.

"Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's mobility tracker program. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.Follow us @BNDarticles, Facebook or Google +. This story was originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.