Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) certainly sold fewer iPads in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the year ago quarter, but the condition of other tablet makers is worse as the iPhone maker was the only one who revealed sales data saying that it sold total of 3.1 million devices in the March quarter, according to a report by Apple Insider by Daniel Eran Dilger.

Apple iPad 5

Apple CEO explaining the decline in iPad sales

In explaining the reasons for the decline, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook said that shifting inventory level compared to the previous year caused a decline of 3%  shipments.

“iPad sales came in at the high end of our expectations,” Cook told analysts, “but we realized they were below analyst estimates, and I would like to proactively address why we think there was a difference.”

Cook added that the difference between sales numbers was due to a decline in iPad channel inventory compared to the previous year, when it was on the higher side. Another reason he cited was the delay in the shipment of iPad Mini last year, for which orders were fulfilled in the March quarter. The December quarter ended with “near supply demand balance”.

IDC using new ways to undermine the market

Back in 2010, Samsung shipped millions of tablets, which is based on counting inventory “sell in.” The main purpose of such counting was to hide the fact that, in reality, the Korean company has not witnessed any major sales to users, says Dilger.

Apart from Samsung’s questionable “sell-in” inventory methods, IDC also came up with a different calculation trick to arrive at its “Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker” figures. IDC now categorized Windows 8.1 “2 in 1” netbooks as tablets.

The new method deviated from the original definition of a “media tablet.” The trick has been helpful in showing a declining market share of Mac, and that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads were in direct competition to the personal computers, and mostly outpacing the dwindling PC sales, which no one could deny.

IDC is constantly expanding  the tablet category, as last year it added toys, and this year netbooks and hybrids like the Asus T100 and x86 notebook running the desktop version of Windows 8.1. This marks a complete u-turn from IDC, as earlier IDC and others argued that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Windows are so different that they cannot be compared in the same market category. In 2011, IDC said that any mobile products that use “full PC operating systems,” (ie,Microsoft Windows) are not media tablets.