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Dell takes Intel's cue on PCs, puts enterprise on top of the agenda

Michael DellFor the umpteenth time, Dell Technologies has reiterated that PCs are important to the company, and it won't quit the market.

But PCs occupied only a few minutes of CEO Michael Dell's opening keynote at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas on Monday. PCs are the engine that keep enterprises chugging, he said.

Instead, Dell spent time educating attendees about the new Dell Technologies and its products. It's been less than a year since the US$67 billion Dell-EMC merger was finalized, and a lot of focus was on answering burning questions about the company's future.

Dell did say the company would offer the PC-as-a-service worldwide by the end of the year, with more details about the program to be shared on Tuesday. HP and Microsoft are offering PC-as-a-service options, allowing customers to buy devices and support and pay on a monthly basis. That option reduces the hardware acquisition and support costs for companies.

Michael Dell started Dell as a PC company in 1984 when he was 19 years old. But today, the PC market is limited, and Dell's approach is much like Intel's, which is focusing on enterprise IT infrastructure. Dell is now focused more on server, storage, cloud, networking, and internet-of-things offerings.

The possibility of explosive growth in the PC market is remote, especially with mobile devices and tablets also being used for computing. Worldwide PC shipments will remain stuck in the 250 million to 300 million range, and most new purchases will replace existing PCs. The upgrade cycle is slowing down to about five or six years.

Research firm Gartner predicts PC shipments to touch 266 million in 2017 and 272 million in 2018, compared to 268 million in 2016. Shipments in that limited market will be shared among Lenovo, HP, Dell, Asus, Apple, Acer, and other vendors.