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GLOBAL TECH WRAP: Apple tablet share drops below 50%

Apple's share of the worldwide tablet market has dropped under 50% for the first time.

IDC shipment figures for the fourth quarter of 2012 confirm that Apple shipped more iPads than ever before: 22.9 million to the year-ago quarter's 15.1 million. 

But the overall market grew even faster as Google Android-based tablets from Amazon, Samsung and others flew out the door.

The net result: Apple's market share has slipped to 43.6%. IDC's third quarter survey had Apple on 50%; its previous survey had Apple on 68%.

IDC figures also show tablet sales will soon eclipse the stagnant PC market.

The market tracker's latest tablet numbers for New Zealand (for the third quarter of 2012) show the iPad on 65%, but slipping.

Microsoft shipped just 900,000 units of its new Surface tablet to retailers during the fourth quarter - less than the 2 milliion some analysts had picked.

The number shipped in New Zealand is easy to estimate: zero. Microsoft NZ has yet to announce a ship date for the Surface RT, or the more expensive Surface Pro.

Sony will unveil its PlayStation 4 at an even in New York on February 20. The company is mum on the commercial release date, but industry press is guessing close to Christmas. Microsoft is expected to reveal plans for its next Xbox at the E3 gaming conference in June. Sales of both consoles have slowed: partly because current models are at the creaky end of their life-cycle, and partly because gamers have shifted their focus to social media, smartphone and tablet games.

Mega says it has blocked Mega-search, a site that indexed Mega.co.nz, making it easy to locate files, including pirated content. Kim Dotcom says Mega has no relationship with any search or indexing site. Earlier, Dotcom's US lawyer Ira Rothken said Mega had been hit by 150 copyright infringement notices from rights holders in the US and around the world. Rothken maintains all file-sharing sites feature pirated material, but that online storage is legal, and on balance a public good. Mega has received fewer notices than others, and is following every legal requirement to take down files where necessary, the lawyer says.

DARPA's 1.8 gigapixel drone camera is a high-res Fourth Amendment lawsuit waiting to happen, says The Verge.

Samsung's Superbowl ad mocks over-zealous copyright - a concept the South Korean smartphone and tablet is of course very familiar with through its many legal battles with Apple. The Superbowl is not until Monday NZ time, but the ad's already online: here's the clip, starring Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd: