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As PC sales languish, both HP and Dell are likely to spend more on cloud computing, data storage and technology consulting.

Although those look like prudent bets now, HP and Dell probably should be spending more money trying to develop products and services that turn into “the next new thing” in three or four years, said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan law and business professor who has been tracking the troubles of both companies.

“It’s like they are both standing on the dock watching boats that have already sailed,” Gordon said. “They are going to have to swim very fast just to have chance to climb back on one of the boats.”