IDC: AI is a solution for a PC industry with a sales problem

Articulating use cases? Erm, yes but customers are captivated

Business interest in AI PCs is fizzing, at least according to IDC, even though the analyst admits “use cases have yet to be fully articulated.”

CEO Pat Gelsinger presents during Intel Innovation in San Jose

Intel slaps forehead, says I got it: AI PCs. Sell them AI PCs


Such is the hype around generative AI since ChatGPT was made publicly available that big software and hardware brands are looking to shoe horn the tech into every nook and cranny.

Just last week HP boss Enrique Lores and Lenovo exec Luca Rossi joined in by confirming both companies are working on a range of AI PCs for general availability between July next year and early 2025. Neither went into fine technical detail on what those machines will have inside because they aren’t close to release.

IDC research veep for Devices & Displays, Linn Huang, didn’t pour any cold water on the hype this week when he said: “Generative AI could be a watershed moment for the PC industry.”

“While uses cases have yet to be fully articulated, interest in the category is already strong. AI PCs promise organizations the ability to personalize the user experience at a deeper level all while being able to preserve data privacy and sovereignty.”

That’s quite a billing. HP and Lenovo certainly seem to think there’s margin potential. Huang agreed. “As more of these devices launch next year, we expect a significant boost to overall selling prices.”

After nine straight quarters of declining shipments, PC makers are waiting for something positive. The best they got in calendar Q3 was a year-on-year drop of 7.6 percent to 68.2 million units, IDC stats indicate.

HP was the only top five player to grow, up more than 6 percent to 13.5 million PC shipments. Apple performed the worst, down more than 23 percent to 7.2 million Macs, largely because it did so well a year ago, which made for a tough comparison period. Dell slipped 14.3 percent to 10.3 million, which given the mix of its portfolio, signals leaner demand from businesses.

IDC says the PC industry will “experience more pain” before things pick up, but it is pinning forecasts on a Windows 11 migration, a more general refresh cycle for devices bought early in the pandemic, and of course the aforementioned generative AI component.

According to Gartner, the PC market shrank 9 percent in Q3 to 64.2 million units. Mikako Kitagawa, director analyst, said: ”There is evidence that the PC market’s decline has finally bottomed out.”

She added: “Seasonal demand from the education market boosted shipments in the third quarter, although enterprise PC demand remained weak, offsetting some growth."

She said PC inventories in the supply chain are on track to be in the normal range – four to six weeks – by the end of the year “as long as holiday sales do not collapse.” ®

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