ARM CPUs predicted to hit 30% PC market share by 2026

Qualcomm logo 2022
(Image credit: Qualcomm)

What you need to know

  • ARM-powered PCs will make up 30% of the PC market by 2026, according to market analyst firm Canalys.
  • The same firm predicts that half of cloud processors will be ARM-based by 2026 as well.
  • Apple transitioned to ARM processors recently and Windows 11 on ARM has gained momentum this year.

Almost one out of every three PCs will run on an ARM processor by 2026, according to market analyst firm Canalys (via DigiTimes). Additionally, the firm predicts that half of cloud processors will be ARM-powered by that same year.

"By 2026, not 2050 but 2026, four years from now, half of the cloud processors will be ARM-based, 30% of PCs will be ARM-based," said President and CEO of Canalys Steve Brazier. "It is an extraordinary event and an industry-changing event that simply has not been taken seriously enough.

ARM chips have dominated the cellphone market for years, but they didn't see a significant push in the PC space until Apple transitioned to its own ARM-based processors. Windows on ARM has been around for a while but didn't start gaining major momentum until this year.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s

Lenovo's ThinkPad X13s is one of the latest Windows 11 on ARM laptops. (Image credit: Future)

It's important to note that the prediction counts all personal computers as PC. That may seem like a strange clarification, but many people refer to devices running Windows as PCs and count Macs separately, at least in casual conversation — think back to the "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" ad campaign. In the context of ARM increasing its market share within the PC space, Canalys refers to Windows computers, Macs, and Chromebooks as "PCs."

Lumping these types of devices together as PCs is standard practice for analysis and when measuring market share. For example, Apple held a 13.5% PC market share in Q322, according to IDC.

In order to reach a 30% PC market share by 2026, ARM processors would have to grow in use across Windows devices, Macs, and Chromebooks. Apple's ARM-based chips have earned a solid reputation, so it's reasonable to assume they'll continue to do well. The bigger question marks surround Windows on ARM PCs.

The launch of Windows 11 and Microsoft's other recent efforts have improved the ARM-based PC market. The company's flagship Surface Pro 9 is available in both Intel and ARM variants. What could turn the tide further is the release of Qualcomm's Nuvia-based processors, which were announced this week under the name "Oryon."

A recent report claimed that the Nuvia-based chips are "extremely promising." Those processors aren't set to come out until 2024, so we'll have to wait a while to see what impact they'll have on the PC market.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).