While it’s safe to say the iPad isn’t about to drop off people’s wish lists any time soon, recent reports by various research firms continue to show that Apple’s tablet is gradually losing market share to rival devices powered by Google’s Android operating system.

The latest data comes from ABI Research, who on Tuesday said that although the Cupertino company continues to maintain its lead in the tablet market, its shipment share slipped by 14 percent in the third quarter.

That still leaves it with 55 percent of the market, putting it at the top of the tablet heap for the tenth straight quarter. However, due to the growing popularity of relatively new Android-powered tablets such as Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s range of Kindle Fire devices, Apple’s share is now at its lowest since it created the tablet market with the launch of the iPad in 2010.

If the current trend continues, it won’t be too long before Apple slips into second place behind Android, which currently powers 44 percent of shipped tablets.

Indeed, ABI’s Jeff Orr said that as Google’s mobile operating system is the most popular choice for tablet manufacturers, the Android ecosystem is certain to go on growing, with “new manufacturers, better device choices for reaching more markets, and more developers finding value from apps and content.”

While Apple may be hoping to steal back some of the market share from Android by challenging the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire devices with its recently launched 7.9-inch iPad Mini, its higher price is likely to deter many from opting for the smaller tablet.

“With the introduction of a smaller, lower-cost iPad Mini, Apple has acknowledged Android’s beachhead of 7-inch-class tablets, though at the same time, it has failed to deliver a knock-out punch through innovation, pricing, and availability during the most critical selling period of the year,” Orr said.

Separate data from IDC Research earlier this month also showed the iPad’s share of the market falling in the face of increased competition from Android-powered devices.

With Apple only offering two tablets, and Android powering countless rival devices, Tim Cook and his team won’t be too surprised to see the iPad’s market share slipping, though you can be sure they’ll be doing everything in their power to maintain consistent sales numbers.