Dell Sees Future in Services

100 Despite the pressures of the economic downturn and caution among most of its customers, Dell (s DELL) continues to see opportunity in its enterprise infrastructure and service business, Senior VP Paul Bell said at the Dreamforce conference today. He noted that Web 2.0, social-networking companies and other firms that are adding users need to scale up and are continuing to spend on infrastructure services, while financial services companies are trying to find ways to tighten analytics while paring down extraneous costs.

Bell said reports the company would shrink its manufacturing operations were speculation. But he said Dell’s ongoing move into providing infrastructure as a service is part of a business direction that will cut back on the more labor-intensive service model of the past, in favor of, for example, the remote support services the company now offers.

While the consumer market still accounts for just 15 percent of the company’s revenue, Bell said its existing laptop personalization features are going to expand to allow “true individualization” of the outside of laptops, but he wouldn’t give specifics. He hinted at other areas the company was looking at in PC personalization but didn’t give details, and he also declined to comment on the likelihood of a Dell phone.

But Bell did say the company doesn’t buy into the idea that consumers want complete convergence of Internet devices. Handheld and laptop devices won’t end up as one device everyone uses, he said, and the company is testing out whether netbooks in developed markets will end up complementing rather than replacing fullsize PCs. For now, that means the company is focused on larger screens and keybords rather than smaller devices.