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CIOs and biz buyers views AI PCs with some caution • The Register

CIOs and biz buyers views AI PCs with some caution • The Register

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While vast swathes of the computer industry remain hellbent on inflating the AI PC hype bubble, the response from some analysts and biz consumers is milder as they sit on the side to see how the first generation tech shapes up.

Gartner told us recently that it expects AI to this year generate revenue for the infrastructure kit makers – think servers, storage and so on – as they prepare for wider adoption of model training or generative AI applications.

As for on-device AI breathing new life into PC sales, a part of the market that has only recently emerged from a two-year slump, this isn’t going to be a big driver. In fact, device spending is forecast to grow just 3.6 percent year on year in 2024.

Ranjit Atwal, Gartner research director focused on the impact of Gen on AI PCs, told The Register today: “If PC vendors insist on charging a premium for AI PCs without demonstrable benefits, then business will buy no-AI PCs or those with lower specs.

“Those buying [the PCs] have a got make a choice,” he added.

Last week tech analyst Forrester said that even though 50 models of AI PCs are already on sale, there is “still no killer app” for the average information worker, a sticking point first highlighted by IDC last autumn, before IDC was seemingly overcome with nothing but positive sentiments toward the form factor.

“Forrester expects certain roles with high computing needs, such as creatives, data scientists, and developers, to benefit substantially from AI PCs. For most information workers, however, there simply aren’t enough game-changing applications for day-to-day work to drive rapid AI PC adoption,” it said.

Counterpoint Research said on Friday it expects 45 percent of new laptops shipped this year to be AI-capable which could “act as a catalyst in driving overall PC shipment recovery in 2024.” Many others aren’t convinced.

Kieren Jessop, analyst at channel-focused research house Canalys, told us it ran a poll on whether AI will spur a PC refresh this year – something that many companies were already eyeballing for next year when Windows 10 slips out of standard support.

“While there appears to be a mix of attitudes towards adopting AI-capable PCs, it’s evident that a significant portion of customers are proceeding with their refresh plans as planned, with 41 percent indicating no impact from the industry discussion about AI-capable PCs.

“However, it’s noteworthy that a sizable percentage (33 percent) acknowledge the potential for delays in their refresh plans if advancements in AI technology significantly influence their decision-making process. This indicates a level of caution and a willingness to adopt a ‘wait and see’ attitude until the technology matures or becomes more widely available.”

Microsoft said last month it is working to convince customers of the benefits of paying a monthly subscription for using Copilot, and reckons it is having some success in justifying the $30 per user per month price tag. It admitted the pace of integration across the portfolio differs.

“So if you look at Copilot in Excel, like, we all can’t wait until it’s an Excel jockey and can do a lot, but it’s coming. It’s learning and people have very high expectations,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Modern Work & Business Applications at Microsoft.

“Mostly where we are, right now, is working with customers to help them build out that business case, and it’s just based on hard facts. Are we saving enough in terms of time? Are we generating enough value? And we’re, right now, we’re very optimistic.”

The feedback from CIOs seems mixed too. Elizabeth Hackenson, CIO at Schneider Electric, reportedly said of AI PCs that the current crop are “rather costly”; and Jay Ferro, CIO at clinical research data management biz Clario, cautioned that “Waiting, even a bit, will give us more mature options, avoidance of early adopter costs, greater choice, and more solid case studies.”

Industry sectors including tech, finance, healthcare and manufacturing are “known for their early adoption of emerging technologies and may be at the forefront of integrating AI into their computing infrastructure,” said Jessop at Canalys.

“On the other hand, industries characterized by regulatory constraints, risk aversion, or legacy systems, may proceed more cautiously. Corporate buyers, in general, tend to be conservative in their technology adoption strategies, prioritizing stability, reliability, and proven solutions over cutting-edge innovations.

“In summary, while there may be caution among certain segments of CIOs and enterprise tech buyers regarding the adoption of AI-capable PCs, there is also a recognition of the potential benefits that AI technology can bring. The industry discussion around AI-enabled computing is likely to influence refresh plans to varying degrees across different sectors, with early adopters leading the way while others take a more measured approach,” he told The Reg.

The advice from analyst Directions on Microsoft is to wait and see as it views buying a fleet of AI PCs as a risky bet. ®

CIOs and biz buyers views AI PCs with some caution • The Register

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