Apple experienced the sharpest ever decline in iPad shipments during the first quarter of this year but even still, the company outperformed all others in terms of combined worldwide PC and tablet sales according to the most recent information from independent analytics firm Canalys.

The fall in iPad shipments would normally be reason for concern but according to Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling, it's actually a smart move. He said Apple took action during the quarter to run down its iPad inventory as tablet stock in the channel rose due to strong seasonal shipments during the previous quarter.

As such, Canalys doesn't believe the Q1 performance points to a decline in the tablet category even with increased pressure from large-screen smartphones. Coulling highlighted the fact that consumers and businesses are continuing to adopt and because of this, tablets are acting as disruptors and are finding a place as desktop and notebook replacements.

Looking at the overall picture, worldwide PC shipments which include tablets hit 123.7 million during the first three months of 2014, up five percent year over year. Tablets accounted for 41 percent of all shipments at 50.8 million units, barely edging out notebooks with 38 percent of the market.

Canalys credited the end of life status of Windows XP as a factor that led to increased shipments. This also helped desktop shipments remain flat year on year. Without Microsoft ending support for the aging OS, desktop shipments likely would have been down.