AI-capable PCs driver of ongoing recovery in global PC market

AI-capable PCs driver of ongoing recovery in global PC market

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22 May 2024

The worldwide PC market had a decent start to 2024, with total shipments of desktops and notebooks growing to 57.2 million units in the first three months of the year. This growth signals a recovery in PC demand across all segments, partly supported by AI-capable PCs, shows research by Canalys. An opportunity for companies focusing on circular IT, says Flex IT CEO Andreas Mayer.

According to Canalys, the wider introduction of AI-capable PCs in the second half of the year will give the market a further boost, delivering innovation and added value to users who refrained from buying new PCs during the post-pandemic downturn. Canalys forecasts that nearly 50 million PCs shipped in 2024 will be AI-capable, integrating a dedicated AI accelerator such as an NPU.

Circular IT to benefit from emergence of AI-specialised PCs?

The emergence of AI-specialised PCs is at the eve of a significant transformation of both hardware and software capability to enable the transition to large-scale AI usage. As AI tools advance, the need for IT components, such as memory, storage and GPUs, will escalate in the upcoming years. Can the emergence of AI-capable PCs be seen as a threat to companies focusing on circular IT? According to Flex IT, circular IT can play a crucial role in facilitating this transition.

I actually see it as an opportunity. I am confident that AI will drive increased demand for new PCs in the coming years. As a result, the ITAD industry will see an increased inflow of devices into the refurbishment cycle. Today one of the big challenges in the refurbishment industry is the lack of appropriate supply and this should at least be partially resolved through the boost in product replacements. As with every new technology, you will have early adopters – who will buy and work with the AI capable devices. At the same time a large number of the users will not require nor directly benefit from the technological enhancements. The functionality and speed of processors and chips from the last 3-4 years will continue to be more than sufficient for the workplace needs of many, states Andreas Mayer, CEO of Flex IT.

In addition to an increase in demand for new PCs, Mayer predicts that circular devices will continue to be in high demand.

In my view sustainability requirements and financial benefits will continue to drive significantly higher demand for circular IT devices. The replacement cycle driven by AI-capable PCs will help solve the supply challenges around refurbished devices. Hence my strong view that AI-capable PCs are an opportunity and not a threat for the circular IT industry.

AI specialised PC's

An encouraging sign for the refurbished IT market

The total shipments of desktops and notebooks grew 3.2 per cent annually. Notebook shipments increased by 4.2 per cent, whereas desktop shipments were stable, down with only 0.4 per cent. The global PC market is showing signs of vitality and is forecasted to grow further in the upcoming quarters, with purchases accelerating now organizations are preparing a large-scale transition to Windows 11. The convergence of a larger and aging PC base with the push towards AI-capable PCs is expected to rejuvenate the market significantly.

The growth of total shipments of desktops and notebooks in the first quarter of 2024 is an encouraging sign, suggesting an ongoing recovery across all segments. Despite the broader challenges facing the IT market, there is reason for cautious optimism for the year ahead. We have observed that the refurbished IT market is gaining a significant share within Europe, driven by a rising demand for sustainable solutions and the emergence of AI-capable PCs. Circular IT can significantly contribute to this transition, whereas it aims to optimize the use and reuse of critical components that are expected to be the building blocks of AI-capable PCs, Andreas Mayer concludes.

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