Dell's consumer sales suffer, Windows 8 touch devices encouraging

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With yesterday's report of sagging consumer PC sales, Dell said it's looking to other markets (i.e. enterprise and IT services) to help pick up the slack. Dell has talked about transitioning from consumer PCs to IT business services in the past, but the company seems confident that its business-focused 10-inch Latitude tablet featuring Windows 8 and a swappable battery pack will be an integral part of that plan.

In the meantime though, before Dell's vision of relying on IT services can come to fruition, the PC maker will need to continue selling lots and lots of PCs, laptops, tablets and servers. According to Dell, the company has endured a 23 percent drop in consumer sales just this quarter. The company has also fell short across the board in other market areas, including an 8 percent revenue loss from enterprise customers and an 11 percent drop in public revenue.

So far, Windows 8 may have lent a helping hand, but Dell executives were suspiciously quiet regarding the impact Windows 8 has had on overall PC sales. Rather, execs said they are "encouraged" by initial customer interest in the company's touch-enabled offerings -- that includes both a consumer and business tablet, a consumer convertible and two new all-in-one desktop PCs -- all running Windows 8.

With the launch of Windows 8, we have new tablets and convertibles, including the XPS 10, XPS 12 and Latitude 10. In addition, we have 2 touch-enabled all-in-one desktops. While it's too early to share specific demand numbers, we are encouraged by the initial customer interest in our touch-enabled computing.

Source: Dell Q3 2013 earnings transcript

Dell had promised a new line of tablets back in March, finally delivering on that promise after it began taking pre-orders just a few weeks ago. However, tablets ordered right now aren't likely to ship until mid-December. Base configurations of the XPS 10 (Windows 8 RT) and Latitude 10 (Windows 8 Pro) start at $499 and $649, respectively. 

Will Dell's newfound focus on touch-enabled devices prove to be a huge success? No one can be certain. However, the company believes its user-replaceable battery pack, 10-inch screen, Windows 8 Pro, optional 60WHr battery and enterprise-friendly management tools will set it apart from Android and iOS competitors -- at least in the enterprise world.

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