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AI PCs: Demand In India To 'Pick Up From 2025' In India, the growth in artificial intelligence (AI) PCs will be driven by increased adoption by enterprise users, startups and IT organizations. The Microsoft Surface Copilot+ PCs will be launched in India very soon, said a top executive of Microsoft

By Shrabona Ghosh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Even though physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned about the perils of artificial intelligence (AI), the apocalyptic prognosis has not dampened the spirits of tech enthusiasts or to say, the Tech Titans of the world. In all virtuousness – today, every other tech product has an AI feature or is paving a way for one – a trend that will not be slowing down any time soon. The youngest to enter the highly vying tech world is AI PCs! Everyone in the space wants a piece of the pie. With the confidence of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), companies such as Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, and Microsoft are trying to make PCs better at handling AI, initiating a new cycle of upgrade.

To pique your interest, think of an AI PC as a supercharged personal computer, customized with the right hardware and software to handle AI and machine learning tasks like a pro. It is designed to deliver enhanced computational power and energy efficiency with a more secure environment to handle the massive workloads previously done through Cloud services. These GenAI laptop PCs can be separated into three categories – AI basic laptop, AI-advanced laptop and AI-capable laptop – based on different levels of computational performance, corresponding use cases and the efficiency of computational performance. AI basic laptops, which are already in the market, can perform basic AI tasks but not completely GenAI tasks and, starting this year, will be supplanted by more AI-advanced and AI-capable models with enough TOPS (tera operations per second) powered by NPU (neural processing unit) or GPU (graphics processing unit) to perform the advanced GenAI tasks well. This is where Copilot+, a range of next-gen AI features installed on Copilot+ PCs (AI PCs with Windows), come into the picture. Globally, on June 18th, Microsoft launched Copilot+ PCs, its flagship AI-powered personal computers.

Over the past years, India has been rising in the Global Innovation Index (GII) published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, a vanguard ensuring India's adoption of new tech stack. When it comes to AI PCs, how will the Indian market adapt? "We expect the demand for AI PCs to start picking up from 2025 in India as OEMs are delving into this category with new launches and upgrades. As the Indian market shows signs of recovery, the growth will be driven by a fresh replacement cycle and increased adoption by enterprise users, startups, and IT organizations," said Anshika Jain, senior analyst, CounterPoint Research.

However, the penetration won't be easy, explaining the scenario, Jain added, "Since the devices are relatively priced higher in the short term, the companies will have to focus on educating the consumers on developing compelling use cases tailored for their respective segments and the productivity gains these devices can deliver."

Canalys, a global technology analysis market firm, predicts that an estimated 48 million AI-capable PCs will ship worldwide in 2024, representing 18 per cent of total PC shipments. This is just the start of a major market transition, with AI-capable PC shipments projected to surpass 100 million in 2025, 40 per cent of all PC shipments. In this context, the Indian PC market has registered a growth as it shipped 3.07 million units in Q1 2024, up 2.6 per cent year-over-year (yoy), noted International Data Corporation (IDC).

When & How Will It Pick Up In India

The Indian market, as one of the growing markets in the world, is sensitive, while a bit different than other countries. "The first wave of AI PCs (AI laptops) is relatively high for the global market and India market, which will not trigger a strong replacement demand in India in the very beginning compared to other countries. However, increasing demand in the next couple of years and lower prices of AI laptops could accelerate AI laptop penetration, which we believe can also lead to active server pages (ASP) increase in the Indian market after 2025," said William Li, a senior analyst at CounterPoint Research, based in Taiwan.

The conversation around AI in India is swiftly shifting from the hypothetical to the practical, extending from boardrooms into classrooms. The 2024 Work Trend Index, released by Microsoft and LinkedIn, reveals that 92 per cent of Indian knowledge workers are utilizing AI in their workplaces, a testament to the country's rapidly growing AI adoption. "We anticipate a strong demand for AI PCs in India, driven by the need for advanced computing capabilities and the growing adoption of AI technologies across industries. We are committed to supporting the growth of the AI PC ecosystem in India, enabling more businesses and individuals to harness the power of AI for transformative growth," said Shruti Bhatia, country manager, modern work & surface, India & South Asia, Microsoft.

"The Microsoft Surface Copilot+ PCs, soon to be launched in India, will set a new standard in AI-enabled PCs. These power-packed devices are made for everyday work and play providing exclusive AI experiences to empower our customers. We see AI PCs as a transformative opportunity that can disrupt the PC market with new advanced AI experiences that enable our customers to do things they can't on any other PC, helping them be more productive, creative and communicate more effectively," Bhatia added.

With a committment on creating responsible AI by design with a strong emphasis on user safety and privacy, its Surface Pro and Surface Laptop are the first Windows PCs to launch under the Copilot Plus PCs platform, powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite and Snapdragon X Plus. Other OEMs such as Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung have also announced Copilot Plus PCs powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite and Plus chipsets.

At Computex 2024, Qualcomm president and CEO, Cristiano Amon, took the stage and revealed what consumers and enterprises can expect from the new category of PC's, "The Copilot+ PCs powered by Snapdragon X Elite are the fastest, most intelligent Windows PCs ever built with AI integrated throughout the system and can deliver multi-day battery life."

When asked about the scope of AI PCs In India, Savi Soin, president, Qualcomm India, explained that in the second half of 2024, a lot of developments can be seen around AI PCs. "AI PC will help in next level content generation and we are partnering with different companies to bring more AI PCs in India," he said.

U.S. chip design firm Advanced Micro Devices's (AMD) CEO Lisa has said, "We're at the beginning of a decade-long mega-cycle for AI." Demand is accelerating rapidly, not just at the data center level, but at a personal level as well. AI PCs clearly have an important role to play in this transformation, "We see a tremendous potential for exponential growth in this segment in India. Looking at India's young population, we feel there's a need to focus on developing use-cases that cut across diverse segments and consumer needs. A second factor is of course availability. We continue to work closely with our OEM partners to establish a robust foundation to address these factors," said Vinay Sinha, corporate vice president, India Sales, AMD.

AMD said the Ryzen Pro 8040 series processors for laptops and the Ryzen Pro 8000 series processors for desktops are built with the advanced 4-nanometer technology. These processors are expected to power PC models from brands including HP and Lenovo from the second quarter of 2024, AMD stated in a press release, recently.

Globally, Dell has also launched the new Copilot Plus PCs, with built-in AI hardware and support for AI features across the Windows operating system. "These will be available for Indian clients and consumers soon. The Copilot PCs offer features including Recall AI feature which allows users to search through previous actions on the PC. It also includes features such as live captions, CoCreator, background removal and more, with a great battery life," said Indrajit Belgundi, senior director and general manager, client solutions group, Dell Technologies India.

Considering that the integration of AI is at a nascent stage in PC, the laptops that support the technology are currently in the mid-premium segment, "In the coming years we believe that AI in PC will be how prevalent 5G is in the country," said Arnold Su, vice president, consumer and gaming pc, system business group, ASUS India. While it is still early days, industry projections indicate a substantial uptick in AI PC adoption in the coming time, "We are committed to making advanced AI capabilities accessible to all while differentiating ourselves by providing intuitive interfaces and features that have been finely tuned to cater to the unique needs of various segments, be it working professionals, gamers and even creators," Su added.

ASUS has already forayed into the segment with the introduction of Zenbook 14 OLED, Zenbook DUO, Zenbook S 13 earlier this year and is looking forward to strengthening the offering with upcoming launches that will further fine tune its existing offerings in tandem with introducing integrations that aid users in their day-to-day functioning.

"Our key focus remains on delivering these cutting-edge AI capabilities in a manner that resonates with the Indian consumer, characterized by affordability, intuitive interfaces, and features tailored to meet local needs. With competitive price points, we aim to democratize AI technology, making it accessible to a broad spectrum of users across the country," Su explained.

HP has announced that its next-generation AI PCs HP EliteBook Ultra and HP OmniBook X are now available for pre-booking in India for businesses, creators and retail customers. These are powered by the Snapdragon X Elite processor. The HP EliteBook Ultra AI PC is targeted towards enterprises, public sector organizations and government departments while the HP OmniBook X AI PC is built for retail consumers.

Intel is in a tough spot as its current Meteor Lake chips have been compared to Qualcomm's Snapdragon X Elite. However, Intel is confident that it's just-around-the-corner Lunar Lake platform will outshine Qualcomm's Arm-based Snapdragon X Elite. "Our mission with Lunar Lake is we wanted to build the most power-efficient x86 architecture there is — period. And we're feeling pretty confident," said Intel's Dan Rogers in an interview with PCWorld's Mark Hachman at Computex. As Lunar Lake isn't out today, it will be early to predict its efficiency.

Adding a competitive edge to the AI PC ecosystem, this year, MediaTek, a leading chip vendor for the mobile platform, will work with NVIDIA to extend their partnership into PCs, with the first launch expected in 2025.

Do You Need an AI PC? Will it Make a Cut?

With the impact of AI on the future of work, the increase in hybrid structure and the overall emphasis on employee experience, there is an opportunity to make your PC a companion. There is a need to anticipate and adapt to the evolving needs of the modern workforce, "We provide a comprehensive ecosystem encompassing peripherals, software, and services tailored to diverse work environments. We acknowledge the impact of AI-powered PCs and foresee them as catalysts for a major transformation in the PC industry. This development promises to enhance human productivity and performance in ways previously unimaginable," said Belgundi of Dell.

In the last half a decade, India became a hub for developing AI laden technologies that are now becoming increasingly visible in the market. The country understands technology and comprehends the kind of respite it adds by automating tasks while giving real time insights that will aid in further enhancing a product/ service.

India's young population has a prominent online presence and is eager to learn and connect with like-minded people.They want to grow, to explore different genres of work and creativity without being confined to traditional roles. "This is something that's only possible with AI. Businesses are recognizing the potential of AI in meeting this requirement, and are actively seeking to incorporate AI into their operations. All these factors combined create an ideal environment for an AI-powered transformation in personal computing," said Sinha of AMD India.

AI PCs can make an impact in the long run in the Indian market due to their strong capabilities for content discovery, content aggregation and content creation. It will also make the device user-friendly because it can generate personalized content in the native language. "Even in the global market, we are witnessing signs of recovery with global PC shipments growing 3 per cent YoY in Q1 2024. The AI momentum could be higher in the global counterparts as people get familiar with AI and there is shipment recovery across different sectors," senior analyst Jain explained.

Canalys' latest forecasts underscore the massive potential and wide-ranging impact AI-capable PCs will have on the industry over the next five years and beyond. Vendors that can deliver innovative, differentiated AI-accelerated experiences stand to gain significant advantage as this disruptive new category goes mainstream.

Shrabona Ghosh

Correspondent

A journalist with a cosmopolitan mindset. I lead a project called 'Corporate Innovations' wherein I cover corporates across verticals and try to tell stories on innovations. Apart from this, I write industry pieces on FMCGs, auto, aviation, 5G and defense. 
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