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PCs are back, baby

Overhead view of someone typing on a surface laptop.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s been a hard year for PCs. Laptops and desktops sales have sunk from their pandemic highs throughout 2023 and normalized back to the status in 2019. Not even Apple has been completely spared from the drop.

But a new study is predicting a surprising surge in interest in the PC in 2024, renewing hopes that another wave of innovation and excitement for the platform is underway. After seven straight quarters of decline, the report from Canalys forecasts 5% growth in the final quarter of 2023 and 8% year-over-year growth in 2024 as a whole. That might not sound like a boom exactly, but predictions of a bounce back are certainly promising.

Beyond just this one study, the President of HP went on Mad Money this week to announce that he thinks that the PC market has already started recover, saying ““As we have said before, we think this is going to double the growth of the PC category starting next year.”

A slide showing a forecast in PC sales.
Canalys

So, what’s the reason for all the optimism? Well, as you may been able to guess, AI is the first reason given for these predictions — or more specifically, the “AI PC.” It’s a bit of a silly name, but the idea is PCs are beginning to have AI built in at every level. This includes the NPU (neural processing unit) for speeding up AI workloads on the hardware side — but also in software. Windows has baked generative AI right into the operating system with Copilot, along with all the features built into existing software. Both the President of HP and the Canalys forecast point to the AI PC as a big source of more PC sales.

ARM-powered PCs is the other reason given for the predicted growth. This would be laughable in any other year, but for 2024, it might end up being true. Qualcomm’s massive Snapdragon Elite X announcement certainly caught the attention of the world, as did the report that more established players like AMD and Nvidia might also soon be dipping their toes in. If a Windows ARM revolution was ever going to happen, next year just might be the year. Of course, I don’t expect people to buy new PCs based on ARM, but selling MacBook-like efficiency and battery life might do the trick.

Lastly, the report mentions the Windows refresh cycle as a reason for a bump in PC sales. Windows 12 (as it’s been tentatively titled) has been rumored for launch sometime in 2024, just three years after the debut of Windows 11. AI, again, will likely play a huge role in Windows 12, and even though you’ll likely be able to update your current PC eventually, the initial batch of devices may come preloaded with the latest features and design, as was the case with the rollout of Windows 11.

Will any of this amount to the spike we saw during 2020 and 2021? That sounds doubtful. But with the three reasons listed above, it does feel like there could be some momentum building behind the PC again. Whether or not it will reach the heights this report claims is to be determined, but at the very least, we may be out of the worst of the slump.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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