As holiday retailers make their final pushes for a spot in consumers’ stockings, the latest numbers show that Apple’s iPad was still leading the tablet market headed into the holiday season.

Research firm IDC released figures last week showing that tablet sales overall were lower than expected, but were predicted to pick up in the fourth quarter during the holidays. That boost will be, in part, thanks to the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes and Noble Nook tablet, the research firm said.

IDC Research Director Tom Mainelli said in a release that “Amazon and Barnes & Noble are shaking up the media tablet market, and their success helps prove that there is an appetite for media tablets beyond Apple's iPad.”

Success of those tablets will help bolster Android in the operating system battle, though it could come at the expense of other, higher-priced Android tablets.

Right now, IDC found, Android’s rise on the smaller slates has been eating into BlackBerry and Apple’s share of the operating system market. But with an impressive 61.5 percent market share, Apple is expected to remain on top for quite a while.

“I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11,” Mainelli said, “and in 2012 I think we'll see Apple's product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with enterprise and education markets.”

As for webOS, HP’s now open-source platform, IDC said that it doesn’t expect the platform to “reappear in the media tablet market in any meaningful way going forward.” The system’s market share slipped from five percent to zero percent following the company’s announcement that it would no longer make webOS devices.

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