TOUGH TIMES: Dell Inc.'s fiscal second-quarter earnings plunged 72 percent as the slumping personal computer maker struggled to cope with technological upheaval and shareholder unrest.

THE CHALLENGE: More people are relying on smartphones and tablets to connect to the Internet and perform other tasks traditionally handled by the laptop and desktop machines made by Dell Inc. To counter the trend, Dell is cutting its PC prices at the expense of its earnings.

LET'S TAKE THE DEAL: The disheartening results announced Thursday could help Dell convince shareholders they should accept a buyout offer of $24.8 billion, or $13.88 per share, from a group led by CEO Michael Dell.