Bye-bye, Vaio — Sony sells PC business, with buyer to focus on Japan


Sony will sell its 18-year-old Vaio PC business as part of a wide-ranging effort to refocus its efforts, the company said on Thursday. That effort will also involve concentrating on high-end TV sets, particularly those that support 4K resolution, and spinning off the TV business into a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The Japanese firm will cut around 5,000 jobs — 1,500 in Japan and 3,500 elsewhere — by the end of 2014. The moves stem from Sony’s financial struggles; the company also said Thursday that it expects to report a full-year loss of $1.08 billion for 2013.

In a statement, Sony said “drastic changes in the global PC industry” played a part in its decision. This is a reference to the way in which tablets are replacing PCs for many users, which is also probably why Sony will now focus much more on mobile. However, even within that dwindling PC market, Sony has a desperately small share these days of less than two percent.

The Vaio buyer is Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), an investment fund that will set up a new company to continue the PC business. The firms said they expect to finalize the sale agreement by the end of the first quarter, around the same time as Sony unveils its final Vaio lineup. Around 250 to 300 Sony employees will transfer over as part of the deal.

International customers can expect to see Vaio models vanish from stores – JIP will focus on the consumer and corporate markets in Japan first, “seek to optimize its sales channels and scale of operations” and only then evaluate whether or not to expand again. However, Sony will continue to provide customer service to those who have already bought Sony Vaio machines.

On the TV front, Sony is already the market leader for 4K televisions in Japan and the U.S., it claims – that’s a pretty small market we’re talking about, though, given the newness of the technology and the fact that broadcasters are only starting to play around with 4K broadcasts.

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