Dell gets slammed as slowing economy freezes new IT spending

Profit at Dell (DELL) fell 48 percent in the quarter ended Jan. 30 and flagging sales were mostly to blame, the company announced after markets closed this afternoon. The second-largest computer maker's earnings sank to $351 million, or 18 cents a share, badly missing analysts' expectations.

There's no doubt consumers' recession-inspired frugality contributed much to Dell's disappointing quarter. But digging into the numbers, the real culprit becomes clear. Sales to North American corporate customers, which account for nearly half of Dell's business, fell by 17 percent from the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, sales of computers to consumers fell just 7 percent and only accounted for 22 percent of revenue to begin with.