Big Debates/Questions for 2024

December 27, 2023 / Ben Bajarin

Rather than an end of year predictions piece, I find it is more helpful to look at what some of the big debates/questions for 2024 will be surrounding the technology industry.

Winners in AI
We are at the beginning of an infrastructure build-out cycle very much similar to similar build-outs around the personal computer and the Internet. The growth cycle of the Internet may be one of the more interesting to parallel with this current period, as there was a clear infrastructure winner in Cisco. This was a time where demand for Internet speed, increasing broadband, on a yearly basis was the race of all races. Our desire for more compute at the infrastructure level to train and inference AI feels very similar to that period in time. While there may not be a single dominant winner, we are looking for the dominant player in semiconductors as well as backend data-center. In silicon the race is on between Nvidia, Intel, and AMD and at the cloud/datacenter for the moment it is between Microsoft and AWS. On the cloud front, Google has ambitions here but is still a distant third.

As we enter 2024 the two leading candidates seem to be Nvidia on the semiconductor front and Microsoft/Azure on the cloud services front. We will see if that changes into 2024 and then into 2025.

The Year of Mixed Reality
As 2023 ended, it became more clear that mixed reality experiences with “VR” headsets will be the thing that ends up helping the category go mainstream. This was our conviction for some time, which we felt was confirmed by our experiences with Apple Vision Pro. But now we are seeing that evidence on the back of many reviewer, and consumer experience research reports on mixed reality as a core experience of head worn computers.

With Apple’s launch of Vision Pro imminent, we believe 2024 will be the turning point for mixed reality/spatial computing and we should begin to see more experiences emerge that will help shape the future of the category. While we expect Apple’s entrance here to set the foundation for a new category of computer and growth in hardware/software/services for Apple, a major question remains about the competition. Right now, Meta is the only game in town but if history is our guide it takes a village to compete with Apple. Making one of the biggest questions for the category being if Meta will continue to try and go at this alone or if they will open up their ecosystem and allow third parties to use the Oculus OS and build their own VR/MR experiences on top of the Meta platform. We believe the latter is the only way to truly take their category to the masses, and to compete with Apple.

Will the AI PC Be a Thing
It’s fair to say this concept of bringing more AI features to your laptop will eventually be a thing. But the question is will it be a thing in 2024 or will this be a 2025 story. The reality is, you are going to hear a lot about this concept in 2024. The big questions surrounding the concept of AI PC, a term that is not universally loved, is if it will attract any market interest at the consumer or enterprise level. It seems likely, the two primary market segments that it may attract the most will be creative professionals and enterprises. These are at least the segments where recent research has indicated the primary use cases lie in terms of increased productivity.

It is wild to think we are only a year into the AI momentum and the hardware cycle is already in full steam. But it is important to remember we are still only in the very early beginnings of AI specific hardware at the client level and anything we see in 2024 will look dated in two years.  That said, it is clear many organizations are accelerating their efforts to evaluate the role of AI enhanced hardware (laptops, smartphones) can play in their enterprises and as an enabler of more productivity for their workforce.  Whether we see much demand for these AI enhanced PCs in 2024, we should at least see some early signs of the primary use cases they will enable in an effort to increase productivity and creativity.

To get some more depth on this subject, see the latest episode of our video podcast, called BitbyBit, where we talk about the AI PC.




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