Implementing AI features in Mac laptops could jump start sales

This could be good news for Mac laptops: Trendforce says that global notebook demand will grow by 3.5% this year. 

The research group notes that the global notebook market in 2023 struggled due to high inflation, with annual shipments reaching only 166 million units, a 10.8% year-over-year (YoY) decrease. However, this decline was less severe compared to 2022.

TrendForce projects a steady quarterly improvement in the notebook market for 2024, expecting a modest annual growth rate of approximately 3.6%, with shipments reaching 172 million units. By the research group’s reckoning, Mac laptops sales could increase IF Apple embraces artificial intelligence (AI) in its systems. 

Here are details from the research group’s report: A key highlight at CES 2024 was the focus on AI PCs, which captured significant attention. Leading chipmakers, Intel and AMD, have taken the initiative, collaborating with laptop brands to introduce a new range of products featuring AI acceleration engines. 

The integration of Neural Processing Units (NPUs) indicates a shift in personal computing, moving beyond traditional reliance on CPUs and GPUs. These AI-enabled devices are designed to efficiently manage workloads and power consumption, enhanced by Microsoft Windows 11’s Copilot feature, thus offering a high-performance yet energy-efficient experience for consumers.

TrendForce notes that the initial target demographic for AI PCs includes high-end business users and content creators. Given the substantial upgrades in chip performance and related components like memory, batteries, and cooling systems, a higher price point is inevitable. Despite manufacturers’ focus on hardware advancements and consumers’ willingness to experiment with AI PCs, the growth in market penetration of AI PCs in 2024 might remain limited in the absence of compelling AI applications. The future growth of global notebook shipments, particularly over the next two to three years, hinges critically on the innovation and development of related software applications.

How/when will Apple implement AI on Macs? Only the tech giant knows for sure. But in an October 2023 “Power On” newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said that “one of the most intense and widespread endeavors at Apple Inc. right now is its effort to respond to the AI frenzy sweeping the technology industry.”

He said that the tech giant has built its own large language model called Ajax and rolled out an internal chatbot dubbed “Apple GPT” to test out the functionality. The critical next step is determining if the technology is up to snuff with the competition and how Apple will actually apply it to its products, according to Gurman.

He said that Apple’s senior vice presidents in charge of AI and software engineering, John Giannandrea and Craig Federighi, are spearheading the effort. On Cook’s team, they’re referred to as the “executive sponsors” of the generative AI push. 

“Eddy Cue, the head of services, is also involved, I’m told. The trio are now on course to spend about $1 billion per year on the undertaking,” Gurman wrote. “Giannandrea is overseeing development of the underlying technology for a new AI system, and his team is revamping Siri in a way that will deeply implement it. This smarter version of Siri could be ready as soon as next year, but there are still concerns about the technology and it may take longer for Apple’s AI features to spread across its product line.”

Also from his report: 

° Federighi’s software engineering group is adding AI to the next version of iOS. 

° Apple’s software engineering teams are also looking at integrating generative AI into development tools like Xcode.

° Cue’s organization is pushing to add AI to as many apps as possible. The group is exploring new features for Apple Music, including auto-generated playlists, as well as the company’s productivity apps.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.