IDC: Device Refresh Cycles and AI PCs to Drive Modest PC Growth in 2024



The worldwide traditional PC market is expected to remain flat in 2024, with shipments reaching 260.2 million units, despite economic improvements and a new category of PCs with onboard neural processing units (NPU) colloquially dubbed AI PCs, according to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.

The global forecast will be hindered by China as the country’s economy faces multiple challenges and, in the near term, inventory remains elevated. Excluding China, the PC market is forecast to grow 2.6% year over year in 2024 while the PC market in China is not expected to recover until the second half of 2025.

For the rest of the world, PC shipments in 2024 will be driven by a few coinciding factors:

  • An education refresh cycle as 29.6 million PCs are shipped to this market. Although budgets aren’t as large as they were during the pandemic, many PCs purchased during the pandemic are due for a refresh. However, the lower budgets means that the refresh cycle will be spread over multiple years rather than a huge spike for a short period of time as seen during the pandemic.
  • A Windows refresh cycle is about to begin as the end of support for Windows 10 in late 2025 is expected to lead to PC refreshes starting in the second half of 2024.
  • In the consumer market, IDC anticipates an overall decline in shipments of 1.1% in 2024. However, the consumer market will grow 1.6% year over year if China is excluded. Elevated interest rates along with demand for other devices, such as smartphones, are expected to subdue growth within the segment.

Outside of the refresh cycles, AI PCs based on Qualcomm’s recently launched silicon, as well as newer parts from AMD and Intel arriving later this year, are expected to drive an increase in near-term shipments. However, over the long term, AI PCs are not likely to drive shipment volume, but they are forecast to fuel an increase in average selling prices (ASPs).

“While the noise around on-device AI may seem a bit unwarranted due to the lack well-defined use cases for business and enterprise users, these devices will bring with them a momentous shift in computing by offering content generation and increased productivity over the next few years,” Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s worldwide mobile device trackers, said. “However, consumer adoption will likely take longer as educating users on the benefits of on-device AI vs cloud-based solutions won’t be a straightforward task.”

“Microsoft kicked the AI PC race into high gear with its recent announcements at Build,” Linn Huang, research vice president, devices and displays at IDC, said. “These announcements were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the industry’s long-term vision of AI PCs: devices that automate, support and inspire their users through the use of generative AI. Eventually, AI will be ubiquitous on PCs. In the meantime, we see AI PCs (defined here as those with NPUs) ramping up from roughly one in five this year, to nearly two out of every three shipped in 2028.”

Notes:

  • Traditional PCs include desktops, notebooks and workstations and do not include tablets or x86 servers. Detachable tablets and slate tablets are part of the personal computing device tracker but are not addressed in this press release.
  • Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the company/brand under which they are sold.


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