Firms Jockey for Space in Services

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), Dell Inc. (DELL) and Xerox Corp. (XRX) are seeking new profits in the technology-services industry. But those companies face a major challenge: While competition is intensifying, their corporate clients are spending less on new deals.

Over the past two years, H-P, Dell and Xerox have spent billions to muscle their way into better positions in tech services. The market, traditionally led by International Business Machines Co. (IBM), is regarded as attractive because it provides steady revenue from customers who pay recurring amounts to outsource their tech systems like email or payroll.

But even as the total number of new services contracts awarded each year more than doubled globally between 2000 and 2009, the amount spent on those new contracts fell to $74.5 billion from $90 billion in the same period, according to tech-consulting firm TPI.

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