While many people may look to use ink supplies to print directly from a tablet device as the popularity of the format grows, sales of the gadgets were slightly less than expected in the first quarter of the year.

This is according to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), which revealed total shipments for the three-month period stood at 17.4 million units, 1.2 million fewer than the organisation had earlier projected.

It was suggested by the firm that a significant drop in the sales of Android-powered devices was behind this, as the popularity of Apple's market-leading iPad offering continued to be strong.

Tom Mainelli, research director of mobile connected devices at IDC, said: "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."

He observed Apple's attempts to reposition the iPad as an all-purpose tablet rather than just a means for viewing content appears to have paid off, as has its decision to keep the iPad 2 on the market as a lower price following the launch of the updated iPad 3.

Mr Mainelli observed that despite the overall poor performance of Android devices, firms such as Samsung and Lenovo are beginning to generate interest in their latest generation of products.

He added some mainstream vendors are starting to understand that if they want to compete with Apple in the tablet market, they need to be going down the route Amazon has chosen with its Kindle Fire and offer gadgets at significantly lower prices.

IDC also observed the pricing of the first Windows 8 tablet, which are due to be released later this year, will be a critical factor if the platform is going to attract consumers.

Recently a study by Forrester Research predicted global sales of tablet will soar over the next few years, increasing from 56 million in 2011 to 375 million in 2016.