AI PCs: Unleashing Artificial Intelligence in Laptops and Desktops

AI PCs: Unleashing Artificial Intelligence in Laptops and Desktops

In a bold move to revitalize the PC market, tech giants like Microsoft Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as their secret weapon. Enter the “AI PCs”—a new breed of computers promising embedded AI features that go beyond the ordinary.

What Are AI PCs?

AI PCs stand out from standard devices due to an additional processor specifically designed to accelerate AI capabilities. These features include personal assistants and task automation, making these laptops and desktops smarter and more efficient.

The Challenge: Convincing Consumers and Corporations

Despite the hype, only a mere 3% of PCs shipped this year meet Microsoft’s processing power threshold to qualify as true AI PCs. To win over buyers, the industry must diversify its offerings and create software that fully leverages this new hardware.

Skepticism Surrounding AI Abilities

Analysts and reviewers remain cautious about the actual impact of AI in these devices. Few software developers, apart from Microsoft, have embraced AI features for these machines. Adobe, Salesforce, and SentinelOne, for instance, declined to optimize their software for direct use on AI PCs. Instead, they continue to deliver AI features via the cloud.

Gimmicks or Game-Changers?

While some smaller software makers have optimized their apps for on-device AI, many available AI features still feel like gimmicks. For instance, “Copilot+ PCs” offer tools like making it appear you’re looking at the camera during video meetings, even when your eyes are elsewhere. Generative AI models can create images on the device but still require an internet connection for content moderation. Privacy concerns also delayed flagship features like Microsoft’s “Recall.”

The High Stakes

Qualcomm, the chip provider for AI PCs, aims to challenge Intel’s dominance in the market. Dell Technologies and HP Inc. hope these machines will reignite consumer interest in personal computers. However, performance must match marketing claims to avoid past disappointments, such as Windows’ short-lived mobile operating system.

Battery Life vs. AI

One major selling point for AI PCs is their superior battery life compared to other Windows laptops. Qualcomm’s efficient chips, based on Arm Holdings designs, can provide days of use without charging. However, compatibility issues with legacy software optimized for Intel or AMD processors remain a concern.

The Road Ahead

Despite the hurdles, early signs show traction. During launch week, a fifth of computers sold were AI PCs. Tech-savvy users, especially content creators, have been quicker to adopt them. The general public, however, remains somewhat “confused.”

Qualcomm’s Battle Plan

Qualcomm knows it must promote its brand and support PC makers to compete with Intel’s long-standing dominance. Spending over $75 million annually to feature its Snapdragon processor on Manchester United Football Club jerseys, Qualcomm aims for sustained success, not just a fleeting moment.

The Future of AI PCs

Expect Intel and AMD to release their own AI PCs soon, likely with fewer compatibility issues. By 2026, AI PCs may constitute around 20% of new PC shipments, according to IDC. The journey to widespread consumer and business adoption continues, but the promise of AI-powered computing is here to stay.