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UAE shoppers are being wooed with some of the biggest discounts on tech devices in recent years. But will they buy now or wait for the rush of AI-enabled devices that will hit the market in coming weeks? Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Retail prices on smartphones and PCs are seeing some of the biggest drops in recent times, with discounts extending to 30-40 per cent on even some of the latest models. While some of the heavy discounting has to do with summer promotions, retailers are also clearing their inventory before the high-profile AI-enabled devices come to market in the second-half of the year.

Currently, notebook PCs and tablets (excluding the recently launched Apple iPad with the M4 chip) are being offered at heavy discounts. Even smartphones released this year have seen price cuts, of between 10-20 per cent (depending on whether you are buying at a store or online.) On some PC brands, there are straight 50 per cent price slashes.

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“The heavy discounts could make this summer the best one since mid-2020 for tech gadgets and smartphones,” said an online retailer. “Back then, it was about UAE consumers upgrading to latest devices for the work-from-home and online schooling during Covid.

“This summer, retailers are hoping that they can capture significant sales from shoppers who want to wait before upgrading to AI-enabled gadgets. This year’s summer and ‘back to school’ promotions will be extremely crucial for UAE tech retail.”

The biggest releases in the coming days as far as notebook PCs are concerned will be Microsoft’s brand new ‘Copilot’, which the US tech giant labels as an ‘AI companion that works everywhere you do’.

Will AI devices set off a sales spike?
It was in mid-2020 that the UAE tech market last saw the biggest rise in consumer spending on new devices. At the time, residents were rushing to upgrade to be prepared for the Covid-induced work- or study from home requirements. Device prices too were higher because of shortages of chips and supply. Retailers are hoping that 2024 will bring on a similar level of demand for AI-powered gadgets.

“All tech brands are preparing to launch new PC line ups that integrate AI capabilities and AI enabled devices,” said Rajat Asthana, Chief Operating Officer at Eros Group, the Dubai headquartered tech retailer.

“What we see with in UAE market is a serious attempt to clear the old inventory before the next big launches. It’s great news for tech retailers as we feel AI is going to stimulate new demand for upgrades of devices and be the new driver to growth.”

What we see with in UAE market is a serious attempt to clear the old inventory before the next big launches.

- Rajat Asthana of Eros Group

How will the AI devices be priced?

Tech retail industry sources say that PC brands are rushing to ensure they have the Copilot loaded devices available in plenty in the UAE and Gulf markets ahead of the school re-openings and through September and October, which is when the tourist and corporate buying season starts to pick up.

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Initially, the AI features will make the products costlier. “Lenovo, Asus and HP recently introduced Copilot-based notebooks in the Dhs4,000 plus range,” said Asthana. “The Asus Vivobook S15 is one of the first Copilot notebooks to hit the local market at the end of this month and priced at Dh5,499.

"The way PC makers and smartphone majors are stocking up on new supercharged chips from likes of Nvidia does indicate a massive launch of new devices that incorporate AI in a big way."

Make AI happen fast

Once tech consumer get a true feel of AI tools - and something that's provided seamlessly - the take up rates can be almost instant. That's what vendors are clued in for. "The rapid advancement of AI technology has indeed placed a significant responsibility on tech companies to integrate AI capabilities into their products swiftly," said Fadi Abu Shamat, Head of the Mobile eXperience Division at Samsung Gulf Electronics.

"This urgency mirrors the rollout of 5G - where the availability of compatible devices was crucial for adoption. For companies like Samsung, the imperative to embed AI into our devices is not just about keeping pace with technological trends but redefining user experiences and putting AI-powered applications into the heart of devices." 

The integration of AI is seen as a transformative step that can elevate the functionality and intelligence of everyday devices, making them more intuitive and responsive to user needs.

- Fadi Abu Shamat at Samsung Gulf Electronics

Will Apple's next iPhone define AI demand?

With its new iPad, Apple has provided a taster for what could AI devices could be in for in the second-half of the year. The UAE release of the iPad, which is Apple’s first model with an extensive set of AI features, has been met with solid initial demand, according to retailers.

Which sets up things nicely for the next Apple iPhone. “The Samsung Galaxy S24 (launched early this year) has already shown that smartphone users are willing to upgrade to AI,” said a retail sector analyst. “Until recently, the question was what Apple’s plans were for AI. That’s been answered, and Gulf markets will see heavy demand for AI-backed devices.

"A clear beneficiary will be the next iPhone."