Intel: AI PCs Will Appeal To Businesses But Don’t Expect ‘Hockey-Stick’ Growth
In an interview for CRN’s AI PC Week, Intel Chief Commercial Officer Christoph Schell says the refresh opportunity presented by AI PCs will be ‘significant,’ even if adoption doesn’t happen super fast.
As Intel prepares to enable its first wave of AI PCs, the company’s top sales executive said the new category of computers will appeal to businesses but cautioned that channel partners shouldn’t expect immediate, rapid growth when the devices become available.
“I actually believe that the real client use cases will come from commercial and enterprise use cases where companies are going to drive productivity gains,” said Intel Chief Commercial Officer Christoph Schell (pictured) alongside Intel Global Channel Chief John Kalvin in an interview for CRN’s AI PC Week.
Intel plans to launch a new brand of client processors, called Core Ultra and formerly code-named Meteor Lake, for laptops next week on Thursday. The semiconductor giant has previously said they will “usher in the age of the AI PC” because the chips have been optimized to accelerate a variety of AI workloads, from computer vision to large language models.
The chipmaker has not said when the first AI PCs will become available, but HP Inc. CEO Enrique Lores recently said his company plans to start releasing Core Ultra-based laptops in January.
By 2025, Intel said it expects to enable AI on more than 100 million PCs, which will include devices powered by successors to the first generation of Core Ultra chips.
“AI will fundamentally transform, reshape and restructure the PC experience—unleashing personal productivity and creativity through the power of the cloud and PC working together,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a statement back in September.
Intel Expects ‘Significant’ Refresh Opportunity But Not All At Once
In the interview with CRN, Schell said he expects AI PCs powered by Intel’s Core Ultra chips will present a “significant” refresh opportunity for partners in the commercial space.
However, he added that partners shouldn’t expect “hockey-stick” growth for the category in the same way that cloud-based generative AI apps like ChatGPT rocketed in usage over the past year.
“I think [the refresh opportunity is] significant. I also know this is a question where a lot of people hope for a hockey stick. I don’t think it will be a hockey stick. I think it will take a little bit of time for people to actually understand the use cases,” he said.
Schell said businesses may be slow to adopt AI PCs in the beginning because “commercial enterprise is usually a bit more resistant of accepting new features and specs,” which means they will take some time to test the new category of computers.
“You also don’t want to create unintended consequences, so it will take a bit of time,” he added.
However, Schell believes sentiment could change as soon as the second half of next year.
“If we meet a year from now, the amount of [request-for-quotes] that we would have seen, particularly the second half of next calendar year, in the client commercial space that will have [requested] AI features will be a significant number. That’s my bet,” he said.
What could help businesses adopt AI PCs sooner is a general push in the commercial space to adopt AI technologies to improve productivity, thanks to the rise of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, according to Kalvin, vice president and general manager of global partners and support.
“I think it means that there there’s more openness to the conversation and, in the end, businesses will make the decision based on productivity,” he said.
Schell said this push for AI PCs could come from the shareholders and boards of companies.
“I think that a lot of shareholders, a lot of boards are going to push their companies to adopt just because they believe there’s going to be significant productivity gains,” he said.
While some industries may take longer to adopt AI PCs due to factors like compliance issues, “there are industries where the hurdles are a little bit lower,” Schell added.
AI Will Put The ‘Personal’ Back In Personal Computer
To Kalvin, the biggest appeal of AI PCs will be personalization, thanks to the ability of AI technologies like large language models to use personal data to understand a user’s individual needs.
“I feel like AI is going to put the ‘personal’ back in the personal computer, to custom-tailor the experience in ways that we have never experienced before,” he said.
Intel demonstrated the possibilities of personalization with AI PCs at its Intel Innovation event in September. There, the company showed an app called Rewind that essentially serves as a personalized ChatGPT by serving responses based on a user’s audio and actions on screen.
Schell said he could also imagine uses cases where employees at businesses can use AI PCs to quickly call up information from troves of business documents.
“I think the possibilities of that happening are giving this whole category potentially a huge boost,” he said.
Kalvin said it’s up to the broader PC ecosystem, including Intel and OEMs, to not only enable experiences like this through hardware and software but also to “go tell those stories.”
“I think the opportunity for our channel partners is to lean into that ecosystem, understand the heart of what’s possible with the new experience, and then sit down with our customers and make sure it’s not just purchasing another computer but unleashing that capability that’s really inside there,” he said.