New U.S. sales figures show the changing face of PC and tablet markets in 2013

The above headline is actually quite reasonable. In fact, I would say it is rather good. But that is not the type of headline that's getting my blood pressure up these days. The offending headlines read more like, Chromebooks beats Windows laptops and Macbooks in 2013 US sales growth, and, Why the Chromebook is beating the MacBook, and, NPD: Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013, and... And they're all lies! Here's what you need to know:

The NPD story creating all the buzz is specifically referring to the commercial channel. Here's the thing; we have only the vaguest notion of what that really means. In general, the commercial channel refers to business and institutions such as schools. However, it has nothing to do with actual shipping units to end users. It also may include units Google gives away for promotional purposes. The more important factor is what NPD's commercial channel does not include, namely, the bulk of computers and tablets sold in the US.

NPD is only counting 14.4 million desktops, notebooks, and tablets combined. That is only a fraction of the desktops, notebooks, and tablets that were sold in the US. This means that they are excluding the vast majority of computers and tablets, choosing only the sector of products that will show their paying clients in the best possible light.

One of the outlets excluded from NPD's commercial channel is the chain of Apple Stores. It also does not include Guess through which channel Apple sells a large percentage of its products? You guessed it; the one excluded from consideration. That means that even for businesses and institutions, NPD's conclusions are wildly inaccurate.

In no way that any normal human would slice it, is the Chromebook outselling the Macbook, or anything else. By the same token, the iPad is doing much better than 60%. Again, you have to see the game being played with commercial channel shipments rather than end-user sales, and excluding the places from which iPads are most sold. As always, we have to account for the usual channel stuffing that artificially inflates reported numbers, though much of that stuffed channel will never land on an end-user's desk. 

This is nothing more than the typical shell game played to hide the fact that Apple's competitors have little good news to offer when it comes to putting products into the hands of happy end-users. Apple shouldn't even be included in the headlines, as the business sector has never been big on supplying MacBooks to cubical dwellers. 

The real story is that Windows PCs are taking a hit, as traditional PC buyers are looking elsewhere, rather than upgrade to Windows 8. It is a problem for Microsoft, but these days, what isn't? A problem for Apple, it most certainly is not.

David Johnson