AI PCs are here but a killer application for biz users? Nope

Resist the pressure to jump on the bandwagon just yet warns, warns Forrester

Forrester Research says that although 50 models of AI PCs are already on sale today there remains "no killer app" that would make any of them an essential tool for business users.

As spelled out in the research paper's title, The Year Of The AI PC Is 2025, the analyst thinks enterprises need to prepare for next year, and they should remember to widen their focus from PCs to AI workloads.

The adoption of the AI PC is "inevitable", says Forrester, yet it isn't banking on customers opening their wallet in a big way just yet.

One factor impacting purchase decisions is the impending end of life of Windows 10. Microsoft can keep the updates coming – usually at a cost – but for most enterprises, October 2025 will be the point when anyone with Windows 10 hardware will need to replace it with something that meets the demands of Windows 11. And that hardware will almost certainly contain silicon that will qualify for the AI PC label.

AI PCs can dispense with expensive cloud resources for running AI workloads. Keeping things local will also reduce other pain points, such as latency. However, despite any number of generative AI initiatives and breathless reporting on the subject, Forrester made plain a simple truth: "There is still no 'killer app' for the average information worker."

For example, blurring the background on a video call is helpful, and applying some background noise cancellation is handy, but neither can justify the expense of buying an AI PC in 2024. As Forrester noted: "While some newer PC experiences do benefit from an AI chip, most can still run on traditional CPU and GPU, just not as efficiently."

"Forrester expects certain roles with high computing needs, such as creatives, data scientists, and developers, to benefit substantially from AI PCs," the analyst says in the research. "For most information workers, however, there simply aren't enough game-changing applications for day-to-day work to drive rapid AI PC adoption."

So why bother? Aside from the minority of users who would benefit from an AI PC there is little benefit to be gained in 2024 by raising a purchase order.

However this may change in 2025, Forrester says. While there may be a dearth of game-changing applications immediately visible to users today, Forrester forecasts that AI platform budgets are set to triple in 2024. With cloud costs increasing, Forrester sees an opportunity "for digital workplace leaders to save cloud costs by pushing AI workloads to the PC."

Or perhaps elsewhere. "Despite all the hype around AI PCs, it's not the only form factor that will benefit from AI at the edge," states the research. Indeed, it is not. Mobile and other edge devices are also gaining silicon that will enable the processing of AI workloads. Google, for example, has put Tensor G3 hardware into its phones to enable use cases such as the Audio Magic Eraser on Android devices.

All of this means enterprises need to exercise caution in the face of a tsunami of hype around AI PCs. Other analysts have also issued warnings regarding the platform and commented that it is too early in the lifecycle to be dropping significant amounts of money on the technology, no matter how urgently hardware vendors might be making their case.

The transition to AI PCs is inevitable. By the time Windows 10 gasps its last, the ranks of AI PCs on offer will have swelled by an order of magnitude. However, as Forrester observed, right now, there is little benefit to be had from the hardware for the majority of users. Give it a year, however, and things could look very different. ®

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