Sony has announced plans to get out of the personal computer business. The company wants to sell its VAIO PC division to investment firm Japanese Industrial Partners (JIP) this year, which will make the spring 2014 product launch the last line of VAIO computers to wear the Sony name.

The company says it will continue to offer support for existing customers for some time, but PC manufacturing and sales will be discontinued after the launch of the company’s new spring line.

vaio flip_02

Sony says JIP will try to turn around the brand and make it profitable — but at least initially that means focusing on the company’s home market of Japan. It might be a while before you can buy any VAIO products outside of Japan after the transition.

That’s a shame, as some of Sony’s latest PCs actually look quite good and it would be nice to see how the company’s product line evolves.

Meanwhile Sony has also been working to make its TV business more profitable, and while there’s still a way to go on that front, Sony isn’t ready to sell off its TV brand just yet. Instead it’s spinning off the TV division as a new Sony-owned subsidiary.

So what does this mean for Sony going forward? The company will continue to offer cameras and video game consoles. But one of the biggest areas of focus will be mobile products including smartphones and tablets.

That decision comes at a time when mobile device sales are skyrocketing and PC sales are declining. Does that mean we should expect similar moves from other big players including Apple, Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo? It’s probably too early to say — although most of those companies now offer phones and tablets in addition to PCs.

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9 replies on “Sony to sell its VAIO PC business, focus on smartphones instead”

  1. Poor management is at fault that it came to this. Sony and their customers will regret the lost synergy soon.
    Too many companies don’t seem to remember how to run a business in a shrinking market. The PC market is declining and they try to force the market to expand with multiple new, completely experimental ranges of expensive, high end devices. Last time I checked, you conserve money in a down market and only update your key products as necessary. A deluge of new, expensive products is something you throw into a growing market.

    I venture to say that if Sony had merely replaced the Z model line with the Vaio Pro model line and kept the S model line, which was an unmatched balance of low weight and small size yet fitted with a very complete set of hardware, they could have made a profit, simply by shrinking their PC operation in accordance with the market. Now, they lost it instead.

    Not to mention that all those far-out tablet developments should have been done by and billed to Sony’s mobile group. Maybe they would have managed better hinge mechanisms too, who knows.

    1. Amen on the S series, I have enjoyed my SVS13 as long as I have had it. Sure, I might now be playing the what-if game with the Gigabyte Ultrablade, but my S has been great, for just around the $1k mark on sale (once the bloatware was cleared).
      The sheet batteries with the VAIO laptops are genius, I get an additional 8hrs from mine (on low power settings). Wish they had better docking options, the ones they sold were just too much to consider, and apparently had issues with screens, etc.?

      The Z was great, but seemed to be just too expensive to consider (and how much for RAID SSDs??!). It had a very select group of customers (those with high-res, small screen requirements, or executives wanting the VAIO name) at it price point, and I guess the 3rd generation just had too much competition at the end…

      Still, I’m not sure the new products caused the downfall of VAIO, and I think goes hand-in-hand with the fate of Sony as a whole. They’ve just been in a downward spiral for way too long (since the early 2000s?), not really having a clear view of where they wanted to go, and have just lost the edge in electronics both at the high-end and low-end alike.
      Their entertainment unit (movies, music, etc.) is one of the few majorly profitable portions of the company, and wields significant influence because of that. Sony will continue to survive, without a doubt, but likely not as the same company that they were. A shame, really… it’s a Sony.

      1. On the Vaio Pro’s, the sheet batteries are actually so poorly designed, that I feel I wasted the money on mine. They are not flat, but have posts sticking out of them, making them ridiculously bulky to carry. They are designed with spacers to increase airflow, at the cost of making the laptop so much thicker than the thin battery would warrant, that it won’t even fit into either of my laptop bags anymore. And who needs a clunky ‘leave-it-on-your-desk’ battery? Sadly, I didn’t get to see this ‘sheet’ battery before I ordered it.

        As for Sony’s other problems: I think a big one is, that the accountants milked their TV divisions for too long. Samsung and LG were spending real money on research for new technology, while Sony’s accountants were still sticking to optimizing production costs. So, Sony lost a huge cash cow that was able to pay for a lot of other mistakes…

  2. Interesting move. I thought I remember reading a while back that HP wanted to get out of the PC hardware business as well since the margins are just so low and people aren’t buying them like they used to. I wonder if we will see anyone else get rid of their hardware business?

  3. I always felt like Sony wanted to be like Apple in the PC space. It made high-end, stylish PCs, but unfortunately, the quality wasn’t always there. I had two different friends who owned Sony PCs. One has a desktop, and the other had a laptop. Both had hard drive failures within a few years. The PC industry mostly sells low cost PCs. Sony could have carved out a small successful niche in the high-end PC space, but not with quality issues like that. In other words, if you want to sell PC at Apple prices, you need to deliver Apple-like quality.

    1. Citing hard drive issues as a computer manufacturer’s quality issue shows ignorance on how things work. I guess you also failed to ask Apple owners about their hard drive replacement needs.

      I’d still agree that Apple’s manufacturing quality is higher than Sony’s, but their anti-consumer practices are worse than Sony. I’d call it a wash, as I type this on my orphaned Vaio Pro 11.

      1. Actually, I’ve owned 1 Apple laptop, and 5 desktops over the years. I’ve never had a hard drive failure (or any failure) so I don’t feel the need to ask other Apple owners of their experiences. I feel that I’ve had plenty myself.

        “Shows ignorance on how things work” I assume you are referring to the fact that most PC OEMs don’t manufacture their own hard drives. I’m well aware of that. One of the main causes of hard drive failures is heat. Sony tries to make ultra slim cases like Apple, but fails to control the heat as well. I am also aware Apple has had a few failures in that area too. That’s why I’ve never owned a modern iMac.

        So before you start accusing people of ignorance, maybe consider that they might know more than you think.

  4. They could have simply priced their products in a sensible manner but I guess this works too.

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