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Where’s the bottom? PC sales continue to plummet in 2016

One of the driving forces behind the development of Windows 10 has been an effort to deliver the OS to devices beyond the traditional PC market. It’s easy to understand why Microsoft would want to expand, even if the firm’s core audience was in rude health — but as it happens, there’s no shortage of evidence that PC sales growth is continuing to slide.

A new report from tech research firm Gartner suggests that times are tough for manufacturers that specialize in traditional PCs. Worldwide growth hit an all-time low in Q1 of 2016, with less than 65 million units shipping worldwide according to a report from WinBeta.

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo maintained its lead in terms of systems shipped. Its two greatest rivals, HP Inc. and Dell, took second and third place in the rankings respectively.

Related: Gartner: The era of double-digit smartphone growth is over

The fact that PCs are not being adopted, or retained, at the same rate they were in the past seems to suggest that many homes are now already outfitted with a computer, and updating that hardware isn’t a priority. However, the data also illustrates the way that the market continues to expand beyond its previous boundaries.

Gartner’s research covers desktop PCs, notebook PCs, and premium ultra-mobile devices like the MacBook Air — but that still doesn’t represent the breadth of computing as of 2016. The report states that hybrid devices have seen increased sales, albeit not enough to offset an overall decline. Smartphones and tablets are both outside the remit of this research, and have certainly eaten away at the appeal of a PC for many users.

Although the writing has been on the wall for some time, data like this confirms that the household PC is looking more and more like its high moment has passed. The devices we use and how we use them are changing, and now’s the time for tech companies to observe that shift and make plans for the future accordingly.

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