By Poornima Gupta
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Dell Inc launched a new line of servers for enterprise customers, boosting its corporate business unit and shifting its focus further away from consumers, who are increasingly choosing such devices as Apple Inc's iPad.
Chief Executive Michael Dell said his namesake company is no longer a personal computer company and has transformed itself into a business that sells services and products to corporations, a lucrative market that he said is worth $3 trillion.
Corporations have grappled with ever-smaller IT budgets as slow economic growth curtails spending. But many experts say tech spending will swell over the long term as companies upgrade systems, connect to the Internet cloud, or begin to make better use of user data.
Dell's so-called enterprise business has doubled in the past five to six years and now represents half of the company's profit, he added.
"It's not really a PC company; it's an end-to-end IT company," Michael Dell said at an event in San Francisco where the company launched a new line of PowerEdge servers aimed at businesses with remote computing needs.
The company's founder said the growth of Dell's enterprise business validates its strategy of diversifying away from personal computers as a new crop of devices such as the iPad captivates buyers.
Michael Dell said he wants to focus on the enterprise and public markets, rather than a drastically smaller $250 billion consumer market.
"The consumer market is not particularly healthy and the enterprise business is much more so," Dave Johnson, Dell's strategy chief, told Reuters.
Dell's storage and networking revenue grew 10 percent last year, while sales of its desktop PCs fell 4 percent.
The world's No. 3 personal computer maker fell short of Wall Street's estimate for fourth-quarter earnings, hurt by weakness in U.S. public spending and the lingering impact of the Thailand flood on its product mix. It has also forecast weak sales for the current quarter.
Sales at Hewlett Packard's, the No. 1 PC seller, declined 15 percent in its fiscal first quarter.
Round Rock, Texas-based Dell has been waging an uphill battle to diversify its revenue base from PCs to become a larger player in the data center equipment market and IT services. It faces stiff competition in those markets from the likes of International Business Machines Corp and HP.
To help that effort, it has been acquiring companies, including Force 10 Networks and Compellent Technologies, to boost its enterprise-related products and services.
(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
Dell's new Ultrabooks made quite a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month. Check out the slideshow (below) to see one of Dell's Ultrabooks and some of the hottest new entries into that class of laptops that made a splash at CES.
The Dell also joined the Ultrabook pack with the XPS 13, which weighs in at a hair under three pounds and measures less than a quarter-inch at its widest point. Its 13-inch screen features a resolution of 1,366x768-pixels (720p). Dell has outfitted the device with a 4GB RAM and a choice of two solid state drives (128GB or 256GB). The device boasts an impressive battery life of nearly 9 hours, according to Dell's tests. The Dell XPS 13 will be available starting at $999 by the end of February 2012.
Hewlett-Packard jumps into the Ultrabook game with an extension of its Envy line of premium laptops. It packs a 14-inch screen into a body that is coated with "midnight black glass" on the outside and "silver glass" on the inside -- read all about it on HuffPost here. The Envy 14 Spectre goes on sale in February 2012 and will start at $1,400.
Acer's already got its toes in the ultrabook pond, having released the Acer Aspire S3 in 2011; now they are back with what they're calling the "World's Thinnest Ultrabook," the Aspire S5. The S5 weighs less than 3 pounds and is only 15 millimeters "at its maximal point," per Acer. It's got a 13.3-inch screen LCD and Acer Instant On, which brings your Ultrabook back to life in less than 1.5 seconds. No price for the Acer Aspire A5 just yet, but the company says it should be coming in the second quarter of 2012
Lenovo's ultrabook for business people retains the classic look of the Lenovo Thinkpad but sheds a little weight and size. The 14-inch laptop isn't the prettiest ultrabook, but it's still slim: It weighs less than four pounds and is about 0.8 inches thick. Internally, the T430u comes with a choice of Intel processors and solid-state drive (SSD) storage, and Lenovo says it gets up to 6 hours of battery life. The Thinkpad Ultrabook T430u will be available in the third quarter of 2012 starting at $849.
Lenovo introduced two new IdeaPad Ultrabooks at CES: The U310 and the U410. The two Lenovo Ultrabooks are twins, save for their sizes -- the U310 has a 13.3-inch display, while the U410 has a 14-inch display. Both are fairly thin, at 0.7 inches and 0.83 inches, and fairly light, at 3.75 pounds and 4.2 pounds, respectively; both get 8 hours of battery life and come with Intel core processors. The IdeaPad U310 and the IdeaPad U410 will both start at $699 and will be available starting in May 2012.
Toshiba offered a prototype Satellite Ultrabook with a roomy 14-inch display (1,366x768 resolution). Despite its size, the new Satellite weighs less than 4 pounds. Dell reps offered few details about internal components and were mum on the pricing or release date. Image via Engadget
Vizio's "ultrathin" laptop has no official name yet. Since it won't be called an Ultrabook, it might not be built around Intel's ultra-low voltage hardware. However, very few specs have been released at this point. Vizio has said that the device will feature solid state storage, USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI-out. Other than that, we'll have to wait until Spring 2012 to see what else Vizio has in store.