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Research group raises 2012 forecast for tablet computers

NEW YORK — Research group IDC is increasing its forecast for tablet computer shipments this year after seeing 2011 end stronger than anticipated.

IDC said Tuesday that it now expects worldwide shipments of 106 million in 2012, up from the previous forecast of nearly 88 million.

IDC says growth in 2011 was helped by the introduction of Inc.’s low-cost Kindle Fire, which it says raised consumer awareness for devices at all prices.

In the fourth quarter, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads, more than double the 7.3 million sold a year earlier. Among all manufacturers, IDC says 28.2 million tablet computers were shipped in the final three months of 2011, about 2.5 times the number a year earlier.

That’s still small compared with about 93 million personal computers shipped in the quarter.