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Canalys: AI-capable PCs will make an impact this year

Analyst expecting arrival of smarter hardware will filter into commercial sales and arm the channel with a fresh pitch

There have been hopes across the PC industry that this year will start to see a recovery in the market, driven by a number of factors including the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) devices.

Other reasons for optimism include 2024 being a moment when PCs acquired in the pandemic start to show their age and the continued move by users to embrace Windows 11.

Specifically on the AI front, the launch of more products that have that technology built in should also act as an investment spur, according to research from Canalys.

The analyst has shared its thoughts around the impact AI-capable PCs will have this year and beyond. Most of the leading hardware players have revealed plans to launch devices that include some elements of artificial intelligence over the course of 2024.

The arrival of those offerings will filter into sales, with Canalys expecting that 19% of PCs shipped this year will be AI-capable. Once the products start hitting the market, momentum will continue to build, with the portion of devices being sold using the technology hitting 60% by 2027.

Another positive for the channel is that the majority of customers for those products will be commercial, with most PCs sold to business customers being AI-enabled by 2027.

“The role of the PC as the primary device for productivity, especially in business environments, presents a massive opportunity for embedded AI capability to deliver compelling innovation that fundamentally alters the user experience on PCs for the better,” stated the Canalys special report, Now and next for AI-capable PCs.

Getting up to speed

The channel is going to have to do some work to get up to speed on the technology, and get into a position where they can guide users through a technology that has been tarnished with negative headlines over the past 18 months.

“Key challenges to overcome include getting channel partners on board to drive rapid commercial adoption, overcoming user resistance through transparent and ethical practices, and creating and showcasing meaningful on-device AI experiences to excite the potential user base,” added the report.

Just as with AI in general, one of the keys to success will be the emergence of use cases, and the channel will need to keep an eye on examples where early adopters have seen PCs using the technology make a notable difference to productivity.

Ultimately, the arrival of AI-capable devices will add to the feeling that 2024 is going to be a different year after a tough 2023, when the PC market declined quarter after quarter. There is also a sense that the narrative is changing, and artificial intelligence has the potential to deliver significant changes and revolutionise the desktop.

“As the PC industry braces for a wave of device refreshes four years on from the Covid pandemic, and ahead of the end of life of Windows 10, it’s vital for players across OEMs, software and operating system providers, component suppliers, and the channel to communicate the benefits of AI-capable PCs to customers effectively,” the Canalys report stated.

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