Personal computers powered by artificial intelligence are expected to drive a strong rebound in the global PC market, which continues to grapple with weak demand, a new study has shown.
AI PCs are projected to have a 10-year compound annual growth rate of 50 per cent from 2020, eventually dominating the market after 2026, with a penetration rate of more than 50 per cent, Counterpoint Research said in its quarterly update.
Intel, Qualcomm and other makers of PC CPUs are “working closely” with original equipment manufacturers to develop next-generation mainstream models, and a lot of product launches are expected after the fourth quarter of 2023, “marking a new chapter for the PC industry”, the Hong Kong-based research firm said.
PC manufacturers are looking for the next jolt to their businesses and AI, which has exploded in popularity thanks to generative AI, might be that new growth engine.
“Fortunately, we are now entering the first replacement cycle after the Covid-19 pandemic along with a potential pick-up in AI PC momentum as we move into 2024,” Counterpoint said.
“The AI PC has emerged as the next big thing and will very likely drive the next wave of shipment rebound.”
Annual PC shipments could return to pre-Covid levels in 2024, and would also be boosted by user upgrades to Microsoft Windows 11 and the next wave of Arm-based computers, it said.
Counterpoint, however, acknowledges that AI PCs may not gain much traction in its earliest stages. But it said “with the increase in applications around the world, AI PCs could progress tremendously” in the second half of 2024.
AI on PCs provide added power to computers' abilities, including making computational tasks such as deep learning training more effective. Apple, with its in-house silicon chips, touts its neural engine to accelerate AI and machine learning.
Intel has pledged to push forth with its AI PC strategy: “Customers can enjoy exciting new AI capabilities – like real-time language translation, automation inferencing and enhanced gaming environments,” it said.
The silver lining comes as the global PC market continues to face a number of challenges, with manufacturers trying to cope with high interest rates, rising inflation and supply chain disruptions – all of which have dampened consumer sentiment and demand.
Counterpoint's report showed that overall global PC shipments dropped 9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter.
The figure was still an improvement from the 15 per cent decrease in the previous quarter, which is a further indication that the PC market has already bottomed out and is set for a recovery, it said.
Hewlett-Packard, one of the world's biggest manufacturers of personal computers, bucked the trend, posting a 6 per cent growth in PC shipments during the three months ended September.
The California-based company shipped 13.5 million units during the period, up from 12.7 million a year ago.
Lenovo, the world's biggest PC maker, maintained its top spot, shipping around 16 million units, which was down 5 per cent from 16.9 million a year ago, the report said.
Shipments from Dell and Asus declined 14 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively. The companies, notable for their gaming PCs and laptops, shipped 10.3 million and 4.8 million units, respectively.
Apple posted the biggest drop at 18 per cent, shipping 6.5 million units, from 7.9 million a year earlier, Counterpoint said.
“We … are expecting gentle shipment recovery along with several new product launches over the next couple of months, especially from AI function-enabled models,” Counterpoint said.