The PC market is alive and well.
“We don’t see PCs going away at all,” Michael Dell said Wednesday afternoon, during a question and answer session at a Dell World press and analysts event in Austin.
“There are a billion and a half PCs in the world and that seems to me like a pretty big number,” Dell said. “Estimates are that there will be 2 billion PCs in a few years so it’s a growth market.”
While the industry shifts to more mobile devices like smart phones and tablets, Dell sees those devices as augmenting the PC and not replacing it. He will talk more about Dell’s plans for innovation during an 8 a.m. keynote address to the inaugural Dell World Thursday at the Austin Convention Center. About 2,000 people are expected to attend the sold-out event, which runs through Friday.
Dell is also focused on capturing Hewlett Packard’s customers during this turbulent time as HP goes through leadership changes and company realignment.
“I also believe that there is certainly a benefit to us, an opportunity that is created by the turmoil and uncertainty at one of our major competitors,” Dell said.
Dell released a survey this week by Technology Business Research, that showed most of the 130 HP U.S. customers with at least 500 customers, surveyed reported concern with the direction HP has taken.
HP announced plans to jettison its $40 billion PC business and become a software and services company like IBM. But those plans are in limbo since the departure of its old CEO Leo Apotheker. Now under the leadership of its new CEO, Meg Whitman, HP may keep its PC business after all, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
To further diversify its business, Dell has also shifted into the data center, solutions and services business over the past several years. It’s not the same PC maker that Dell founded 27 years ago.
Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, reported that Dell is number one in services in the healthcare industry and number two in the education space around the world.
“We started out as a product company,” Dell said. In the last decade, Dell has evolved into a solutions company, but one that still cares about PCs, he said.
During the last 18 months, Dell has been one of the most active acquirers of businesses in the information technology industry, Dell said. It has added companies like Compellant, Kace Networks, Force 10 Networks and SecureWorks. Dell looks at more than 250 companies a year to decide which 8 or so it wants to acquire, Dell said.
“In last 12 months, earnings per share grew by 83 percent,” Dell said. The growth is coming from acquisitions and organic growth, he said.
Dell has also made a big push into the data center business and cloud computing. It has made $1 billion worth of investments in data centers this year. Dell just announced the opening of new data centers in the United Kingdom and in Quincy, Washington. This year, Dell has also opened nine Solutions Centers and plans to open three more by the end of this year.
A reporter asked Dell his thoughts on China-based Lenovo, which bought out IBM’s PC business, becoming the number two PC maker worldwide. Dell said that his company focused on profits and revenue and not necessarily number of PC units sold. He called Lenovo a great competitor, but said he didn’t worry about rankings. Research firm IDC reported on Wednesday that Lenovo overtook Dell for the first time to become the number two PC maker. HP ranked first with an 18 percent market share, followed by Lenovo with nearly 14 percent and then Dell with 12 percent.
The total information technology industry is worth $3 trillion and only 10 companies have 1 percent of that market and Dell is one of the companies that has more than 1 percent of that market. But it’s a highly fragmented market and not a single company dominates the industry, he said.
Dell also shared his thoughts on the fast growing tablet marketplace, which he says “is basically an iPad market.” He sees the challengers to the iPad are Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Google’s Android operating system for mobile devices.
“Those are the two primary alternatives to iPad,” Dell said. Dell appears to be backing the Windows 8 system for the tablet market. It will announce a wide variety of products around Windows 8 when it is released, Dell said.