Can the AI PC make selling computers fun again?

HP CEO Enrique Lores (left) and Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (right) at HP Amplify Partner Conference 2024

LAS VEGAS — Even from his seat as CEO of chipmaker Intel, Pat Gelsinger has to acknowledge that selling computers has been a bit of a slog for the last two decades, or perhaps longer, depending on who you ask.

Speaking at HP’s Amplify Partner Conference here, Gelsinger acknowledged that partners who’ve been dedicated to the personal computer have been “long-suffering.” Maybe that’s because much of the innovation has been around the edges and hasn’t changed the fact that the PC is seen as a commodity endpoint. People may want the nicest/fastest/shiniest device to access their applications, but ultimately, the PC was just that, a device to access the applications they wanted.

If that’s a strangely pessimistic message to bring to 1,500-plus partners of one of your top customers as Intel’s CEO, Gelsinger had good news for partners like HP’s base assembled here. Help is on the way.

“It’s going to be a lot more fun for the next decade,” Gelsinger predicted in his keynote discussion with  HP CEO Enrique Lores. He predicted that the rise of the AI-enabled PC will make for another “Centrino moment,” referring to the shift in the PC market in the first years of this century away from the tried-and-true desktop form factor and towards the WiFi-enabled laptop that could be connected anywhere, championed in Intel parlance by the launch of the Centrino lineup for thin and light notebooks.

But, Gelsinger cautioned, for a lot of that fun to be realized, there will need to be a lot of innovation along the way. Although he praised the HP Spectre laptop he clutched in his hand and proclaimed his “everyday machine” and, more importantly, the first PC to market with Intel’s new AI-centric Core Ultra processor, Gelsinger said the form factor is still ultimately on one side, a standard LCD panel, and on the other side a QWERTY keyboard, which he described as “a hot innovation from the 1870s.”

The point is that the PC is ripe for reinvention. To illustrate his point, Gelsinger gestured to his glasses and noted that “ultimately, I want these to be my display.”

The two chief executives argued for reimagining the PC with new form factors and capabilities based on more natural interfaces like voice and touch. 

For his part, Lores said, “We’re on the verge” of another industry transformation around AI, the likes of which we saw in the 80s with the PC, the 90s with the web, the 00s with mobility, and the 10s with the cloud. He said he believed that AI would help solve some of the biggest challenges facing businesses, most notably solving for the disparate needs of businesses (growth and profitability) and employees (flexibility and empowerment).

“We can create personalized experiences that provide employees what they want and companies what they need,” Lores told partners. “We can drive productivity, allow them to collaborate flexibly, and provide CIOs with the tools they need to reduce costs, increase performance, and drive employee satisfaction. AI, in combination with our portfolio, will allow us to be the company that creates that opportunity and drives that change.”

Gelsinger added that the part that makes it most fun for partners is that there will be a different killer app or capability for every business or industry, and solution providers will need to play a major role in translating the talk of “crazy CEOs like Pat Gelsinger” (his words) into the needs of the business.

“When they come back and think, ‘Wow, how do I do that?’ That’s where you come in. We need you to put this cool technology in the context of your customers,” Gelsinger told attendees. “If we make that happen in the next couple of years, we’re going to have a lot of fun together, make a lot of money together, and make our customers successful together.”

In other words, Gelsinger argues that the AI PC will introduce new points of differentiation and let partners add more value than before, as they have in so many other aspects of the industry, being their customers’ “trusted advisors” in getting the most out of those new capabilities.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.