PC market finds new momentum amid AI interest

The global PC market is showing solid signs of recovery, with Apple leading the charge among significant manufacturers. According to the latest data from International Data Corporation (IDC), the traditional PC market experienced a 3% year-over-year (YoY) growth in the second quarter of 2024, marking its second consecutive quarter of expansion after a prolonged decline.

The report reveals that worldwide PC shipments reached 64.9 million units in Q2 2024, with Apple as the top performer among major brands. The Cupertino-based tech giant saw an impressive 20.8% increase in Mac shipments compared to last year, significantly outpacing its competitors and strengthening its position in the global PC market.

This resurgence comes as a welcome development for an industry grappling with challenges in recent years. The PC market had previously experienced seven consecutive quarters of decline, making this turnaround particularly noteworthy. While the overall market benefited from favourable comparisons to 2023, the growth was uneven across all regions. 

Notably, weak results in China continued to hold back the market’s full potential. Excluding China, the global PC market showed even more robust growth, with shipments increasing by more than 5% YoY. This disparity highlights the uneven nature of the recovery and the ongoing challenges faced in specific key markets.

Apple’s exceptional performance can be attributed to several factors, including the growing popularity of its M-series chips, which have garnered praise for their power efficiency and performance. The company’s focus on integrating its hardware and software ecosystems has also likely increased consumer interest in Mac products.

While Apple led the pack in terms of growth rate, other major manufacturers also saw positive trends. Lenovo maintained its position as the market leader with a 3.7% shipment increase, capturing 22.7% of the market share. HP Inc. followed closely with a a 21.1% market share and a 1.8% shipment growth. Acer Group also performed well, with a 13.7% increase in shipments.

Interestingly, Dell Technologies was the only top-five vendor to experience a decline, with a 2.4% decrease in shipments compared to Q2 2023. However, the company still maintained a significant 15.5% market share.

The stage is set for the AI PC revolution

Industry analysts attribute the overall market recovery to several factors, including a commercial refresh cycle and increasing interest in AI-capable PCs. Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Device Trackers, noted that while the PC market faces challenges due to maturity and economic headwinds, the combination of two consecutive quarters of growth, market hype around AI PCs, and an ongoing commercial refresh cycle has injected new life into the mature market.

The buzz surrounding AI-enhanced PCs is expected to drive further growth in the coming months, with significant players in the industry laying out their initial strategies for AI integration. While the commercial market is seen as having the most significant short-term upside for AI in the PC industry, there is growing anticipation for developments in the consumer segment.

IDC also reckons all eyes are on Apple to potentially drive the consumer AI narrative later this year with anticipated product launches. However, “it shouldn’t be overlooked that Qualcomm, Intel, and AMD are all likely to make noise around both consumer and commercial AI PCs,” the report reads.

Beyond Apple and AI: What’s next in the global PC market?

Beyond the AI factor, the market has also benefited from promotional activities from consumer-oriented brands and channels, Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, shared. He believes the industry has moved past the rock-bottom pricing brought about by excess inventory last year, leading to growth in average selling prices due to richer configurations and reduced discounting.

As the PC market continues recovering, it faces opportunities and challenges. The ongoing commercial refresh cycle and the emerging AI PC segment present significant growth potential. However, regional disparities, particularly the weakness in the Chinese market, remain a concern for overall market performance.

The industry will be closely watching how manufacturers capitalize on the AI trend and whether they can sustain the current growth momentum. Apple’s strong performance sets a high bar for competitors and may prompt increased innovation and marketing efforts.

(Photo by Josip Margeta)

See also: AI revolution in US education: How Chinese apps are leading the way

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Tags: ai, artificial intelligence, report

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