* Apple share falls to 75 pct from 95 -Strategy Analytics
* Samsung was main hardware competitor
NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Google Inc‘s (GOOG.O) Android software won a 22 percent share of the tablet computer market in the fourth quarter, biting at the heels of Apple Inc‘s (AAPL.O) iPad, which still has a massive market lead.
Research firm Strategy Analytics said Apple‘s share of the global market for tablets fell to 75 percent in the fourth quarter from 95 percent in the third quarter while the overall market increased 120 percent to almost 10 million units.
The Galaxy tablet from Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) was the main competitor to iPad in the quarter as it was on sale in dozens of countries, according to the research firm.
Samsung has said it sold 2 million Galaxy tablets in the last three months, still putting it far behind Apple, which sold more than 7 million iPads in the last quarter. It was not immediately clear whether both companies were referring to the exact same time period.
Strategy Analytics expects Android to increase its tablet market share further in the first half of this year as new devices such as the Xoom from Motorola Mobility (MMI.N) are expected to go on sale during that time.
However, Canada‘s Research In Motion RIM.TO will add yet more competition to the burgeoning market when it launches its PlayBook tablet toward the end of this quarter.
The United States was the biggest tablet market by far in the fourth quarter, Strategy Analytics said.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew)
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