Sony
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Sony selling off its PC business to an investment fund

Nothing is ever set in stone. That’s one thing you really learn about when watching the tech industry. Sony has just announced it is selling its VAIO PC business. In addition it will the TV group its own subsidiary within Sony. In turn, Sony hopes to focus on the mobile unit, specifically on smartphones and tablets.

We first heard that Sony was considering selling off its PC unit yesterday. Here we are, about 24 hours later and it is happening.

Sony’s PC unit will go to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), a Japanese investment fund. The amount that JIP paid for the PC unit is undisclosed. Sony will cease planning, design and development of PC products. Manufacturing and sales will discontinue after the global launch of the spring 2014 lineup.

 A new company will form around Sony’s VAIO line and products will initially come with VAIO branding. About 250 to 300 Sony employees are expected to be hired in PC operations, planning, design, development, manufacturing, and sales by the new company. Those who don’t make the cut will be assisted in finding reemployment outside Sony.

That’s not all though. The unit responsible for Sony’s televisions will be split out from the company into its own wholly-owned subsidiary. This transition is expected by July 2014.

These moves, selling the PC unit and spinning of the TV unit, will assist Sony in focusing and concentrating on what it sees as its three core businesses: imaging, gaming and mobile. Sadly, it comes at a cost to individuals within the company. About 5,000 employees will need to leave Sony as part of the restructuring efforts. Sony says 1,500 of them are in Japan, while 3,500 are overseas.

What’s this mean for Windows Phone and Windows 8? Well for one, Sony will no longer makes any products running a Microsoft operating system.

We’ve heard rumors of a Sony Windows Phone before in the past, but you can probably count on that not happening. The latest rumors, from this past December, painted a picture where Microsoft and Sony were in talks to make a new Windows Phone handset. That device would reportedly fall under Sony’s VAIO brand. You know, the one they just sold to JIP. So yeah, probably not happening. Of course this new company, born from the ashes of Sony’s PC unit, could still make a Windows Phone. It just wouldn’t be anything like their Xperia line.

Source: Sony

Thanks for the tip David!

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Reader comments

Sony selling off its PC business to an investment fund

72 Comments

Massive blow to Windows OS. Sony dumping any Windows products and focus entire on Android based devices is sad. I was hoping that MS will step in and strike a deal. Lets hope that Samsung will not follow. MS, ball is in your court.

I don't think its a blow to Windows OS, as the Vaio brand will still exists, it sheds more light on Sony's brand issues I believe.

Its not a massive blow to them. Microsoft doesnt have any hard competition. Mac is way behind behind pc. This is a opportunity for MS to get even more pc hardware makers. They will get it easily as they have been No.1 in marketing of Windows operating systems for pcs

Not a massive blow at all. Its not like Sony is going to manufacture Macs and chrome books are garbage. So no worries MS got the PC scene locked down

When IBM sold off its PC division and now even server division the PC market or brand didn't take a blow. ThinkPad and ThinkCentre are still around and thriving. It just means that Sony wants to focus.

Well, Sony hasn't been doing well in many areas of business. They just announced a forecast where they are looking at a loss. I don't think the Vaio is the one area that is completely dragging them down. I think this is a reality for Sony that shows truly how bad they're performing.

The most profitable parts of Sony are now its insurance company/financial services division and its content business (movie studio, TV production and music business).   Go figure.

The PC market has become very competitive. Sony products have not been selling for a number of reasons; price, reliability, durability etc etc. Still it was a huge brand name and a sad thing to see it go.

But that's life.

Surprised Lenovo didn't snap it up, but then i imagine a staple Japanese brand passing across to the Chinese may not have been seen as doing the right thing? It does all get political when talking about these big companies.

Sorry to hear about the job losses and good luck to everyone!

I'm only a little sad. I bought one Vaio laptop ever for a business user that was smitten on its style, but for $4k I was expecting better performance. The far cheaper Dells everyone else in the company were running ran circles around it. In short, it was Sonystyle without Sonysubstance, unfortunately.

It's not impossible, just improbable. The Sony Windows Phone rumors said that it would fall under the VAIO brand. Which has just been sold to JIP. Of course Sony could still make a Windows Phone device, but it just seems unlikely. The mobile unit they have now seems quite comfortable using Android on their tablets and smartphones. The tablets running Windows 8 were all from the PC/VAIO division. 

Actually the first Xperia's were running Windows Mobile, so this common misconception that exists today that they were always something to do with Android, is false. Also, Sony's mobile division is struggling to make any ground at all against Samsung, hence the reason they were considering Windows Phone, try something new if you will. It worked for Nokia. Microsoft has already stated their intentions are to get more OEM's onto the platform despite the Nokia purchase, so if Sony felt Microsoft were making the proposition lucrative enough in a financial sense, I'm sure they would be very interested in making Xperia's with WP.

I'd also be surprised if we ever see a Vaio WP, the new company would presumably and ideally (from Sony's point of view) have some soft of NCA in place to prevent this, similar to what Nokia have with Microsoft until 2016.

Yes, that's right! The first Xperias were actually those Windows Mobile devices with slide-out keyboards!

I believe, even with the sale of Vaio, it's still possible for Sony to come up with WP devices. In fact, if anything, they're even more capable now of producing mobile devices with WP OS in them because there is now no PC division to divert their attention. The sale of the PC business actually frees them to fully concentrate on mobile, and that includes WP devices.

The last I looked, Sony is still in the business of making money, so if they can make money from WP devices, they'll do it. They can always come up with a new brand name for their WP line.

You are rushing to conclusions here. Sony will make a Windows Phone or a Windows tablet if they think they can make money from those products, the brand can be Xperia whatever.

The problem is that there's PlayStation mobile offerings on the Xperia devices.   I can't see Microsoft allowing Sony to push PlayStation gaming on Windows Phone.

So Sony is shrinking basically. Now they have fewer feet's to stand on making the success of mobile critical for them. Look at other companies like Microsoft or Samsung, they can afford to move money around to back one of there products.
In my eyes, it may look good, but its a sign if how bad the situation is for Sony.

I'm surprised when companies talk about focusing on mobile. If Sony thinks the PC/TV business is low margin they are going to be surprised by mobile. It's not like margins are getting better there. Apple does well margin wise because they can overcharge for their products. Samsung does ok because they control so much of the supply chain. Sony has either of those benefits.

This is the end of Sony. Slowly they will die. They don't have the power to improve their products or marketing so they sell. Their philosophy is instead to give up and sell. Same will happen to their remaining divisions. Goodbye Sony. Sad.

..or they might scrap the Walkman brand as smartphones are replacing standalone music players.  Sad to see Sony is killing off Legendary brands.

Does RCA still make gramophones? GET OVER IT. As a vaio user this is sad, but the idea that Sony has to keep making unprofitable things because: LEGENDARY is stupid. The only Walkmans that stand a chance in this world are the w series and the high end series.

And is there enough people buying those to support all of Sony? I doubt it, even 7-8 year olds have ipods.....C'mon man. Where's yamaha, Pioneer, Alpine???

They've got that covered as Walkman is already an App within their mobile offerings on Android and so they can just make Walkman their "Xbox Music" (which is what the app is).

Samsung controls the Android mobile division after them Kindle, then HTC (who have been losing on Android for years). Are you telling  us that Sony is more proifitable on Android than the three mentioned? And I even left off LG who is more profitable in Android than anther sinking ship called HTC.

ding...ding... Exactly

Notice Walkamn and their TV division. Poor PlayStation fans in my country. I told them to buy everything Sony if they want to see a PS5. They made fun of me because I bought a Xbox 360. I wish them good luck for any future Sony hardware endeavour.

Sony is done after Apple destroyed their Walkman business years ago.

You couldn't be more right.

To add on to what the previous comment said, companies like this, that just sell off their division because its struggling and think focusing on one division more than the other is better, well that's essentially how you sink slowly.

Look at companies like Microsoft and Samsung or Apple these guys operate multiple divisions and it helps them in the future for when one of their divisions is struggling they have big cash to fall back to because of their diverse income.

Sony now put all consumer eggs in one basket. If the market trend continues as is, Samsung will keep growing and Sony will keep sinking. Very sad to see this as Sony is such a huge consumer brand known everywhere in the world. I see them as a TV/music studio only company by 2018.

Can't say I'm sorry. VAIOs have always been overpriced and nothing special. True they had some interesting designs, especially in the Ultra Portables segment. That said the prices were never competitive. Just like every other Sony Product, a price too high for an old badge. 

Also pleased with Sony's steady failing, simply because their PS fanboys are insufferable.

 

 

This plus 100. Bought a Vaio several years ago for my wife thinking it would be what she wanted and was surprised what an expensive under powered beast it was. I am shopping now in Japan and VAIO is overpriced and like all Japanese brands stuffed with bloatware.

Agreed! Sony has been overpriced and underperforming for years. I bought a Sony Bravia LED TV once, but returned it within 30 days because the image quality was that bad. And it cost about 3x more than other TVs with the same picture quality. Their laptops have always been priced too high too. Hopefully the new VAIO owner will lower the prices as a first step. That said, I still kind of want a Tap 11... maybe there will be a fire sale?

I don't see any business using Sony VAIO or Acer Aspire laptops... Business is the only sector that still need desktops and/or laptops. I wish Lenovo, Dell and HP good luck! If there is no more PC, I'll lose my job.

Take a good look at the MS superbowl commecial.... They promoted their own premium Windows device, Skype on the big screen, Metro GUI, Kinect. With where Microsoft is going with Windows & Xbox cross platform services, Windows is just a bad strategic fit for Sony.

 

Sony is also bit player now in the PC business. Toshiba is the important PC partner in Japan in enterprise channels. Sony's PC line was mostly a consumer facing brand solely in the highend of the pc market which is a really bad place to be in 2014.

I think Sony still may release a WP device it a slight chance put it still a chance.

And I always say "Expect the Unexpected"!

Sony's been a shrinking company for years. They still make the best CCD chips, but that's it. Loved my early VAIO Laptops from years gone by, but the one and only PC I bought from them was a POS. The only thing worse was their Customer Service. When you abandon your Customers after they buy their first product from you, they don't buy a second. Bye, bye SONY. Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!

If only they didn't have the 'Sony tax' and make their pricing competitive. Their products, while great quality and certainly very desirable, were expensive, and I'm not surprised it wasn't doing well for them.

This is very sad since I have been using nothing but VaIO. They are more expensive but very good design. Not sure what I will be buying next. Not Samsung for sure. I guess I will make sure that I get in all-on-one and the new laptop before it is gone for sure. I guess Microsoft was right to enter the PC market.

I don't think this changes anything. If anything, if you own the stocks, you will be paid top dollar for it.

While having lots of OEM partners for Microsoft's Operating systems is the world we know, there's a reason they formed an official Devices Division. At worst, Microsoft may one day operate like Apple and be the largest maker of hardware running their OSs. But based on the XBOX, Surface and basically having Nokia in house, this isn't exactly a bad thing for consumers. They have the engineers, designers and tech in house to rival any company in gaming, PCs, tablets, phones and wareables. The future may look different, but that doesn't mean it's not bright.

So nothing's going to change from a consumer perspective till around summer then?

I'm buying a Vaio Flip in the next few months so now slightly worried they might not still be building and stocking them... And also disappointed that this means there probably won't be a new, updated, model out later in the year.

I've been exclusively using VAIO for many years. Since the TR to Duo 11. I might switch to Mac for my next upgrade as I don't see any compelling hardwares that can compete with VAIO beside Apple Macbook :(

If Sony couldn't compete in the computer business against the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP, what makes anyone here think they can do so in the Android market? Android has too many little guys producing $49-$99 tablets for Sony to compete there either, besides, Samsung and Kindle have the high-end space locked up in the mobile space....Ask HTC and others.....Did Sony see the recent deal between Samsung & Google? Did they notice that Samsung has basically dropped Tizen? If you thought Samsung was all in on Android before, they're going to quadruple their efforts now. Sony has tried to live by Apple's philosophy of targeting the high-end space and charging a premium for their products but failed....Honestly, when was the last time any of you here purchased a Sony TV??? all of my televisions (4) are Samsung. I'm going to make a prediction: Everything Sony except the Playstation line will be history in the near future (I guess their TV line could hang on a little longer, but I view their consumer line as old and outdate when compared to Samsung....just my opinion though)....Heck LG seems more prevalent in the appliance/TV space than Sony these days. Sony's best bet for survival is to focus on Windows 8-8.1-9 mobile device excluding laptops/desktops and working with Microsoft on a windows phone handset with a PS hub as no one is really purchasing the handheld PS vitas, nintendo gameboys, and wii-u's like they anticipated. If they continue on their current path of arrogance, all they will have left is playstation (disappearing like BB is). This is why Bill Gates chose to have a broader portfolio than just windows/windows phone; to ensure the survival of Microsoft whether people here believe it or not (Microsoft is more than just computers). I suggest that everyone here brace yourselves to see more companies dissappear. There will only be 4 major tech companies left standing in the end....Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung; I even question Google's longevity in the hardware space because if Samsung can produce a good working mobile OS, at some point they will abandon Google. Microsoft has been setting itself up for this day; that's why they started putting up more brick&mortar stores and are purchasing Nokia's hardware division, because they foresaw the writing on the wall (the upside is that they will no longer have to hope manufacture's make hardware that appeal to the masses as they will be in control of the quality of hardware released).

Hmmm, the last time I purchased a Sony TV was a few years ago. Don't need to repurchase such a high end item when they last forever. I still have a 32" XBR running and it's over 8 years old and the picture is still perfect. All of my TV's are Sony, as well as many other products in my house, and have always been more than happy with them.

As far as the LG lines of TV's, they are ahead of the game on the smart TV front because they just started integrating WebOS, yep, how many people knew that LG bought it and is going to use it?

You judge Sony's success by the US market. Nothing more wrong to do.
Their TVs still sell quite well and their Android phones have seen sales increase since the launch of the Xperia Z specially in markets like Europe. That's why they prefer to focus on mobile offerings.
And I can also assure you that Samsung hasn't dropped the Tizen project. They might tone it down for a while but they'll keep developing it.
I'm pretty sure your prediction will fail ;)

I'm not judging Sony's success by the US market, but look at what happened to Nokia. I remember when Nokia was the go to cell phone in the US and I'm sure they were pretty good in Europe as well seeing that it's their home country. For some strange reason, they basically left the US market alltogether to focus on increasing revenue at home but sales flatlined there, forcing them to make a re-entry into the US market which was increasing but not fast enough to combat losses at home due to the spread of Android. I stand by my statement as everyone cannot become a services company as that market will become saturated as well just like the Android manufacturing pool already is; So in todays tech world, its best to have broad portfolio as opposed to what you deem shrinking it. Sony's major problem in the PC game is pricing & bloatware along with maybe over manufacturing products. Where is Yamaha, Pioneer, Alpine? Answer, not as prevalent, but in their core nitch enviroment. Sony failed to continue marketing themselves as a Television company first then a PC company second, gaming third or switch the last two around. I've seen some of their tablet designs for android they put in cellular stores and they frankly sucked. I wish them luck, as Sony was once a giant in televsion/stereo equiptment which I supported, but their PC were bloated, over-price, and subpar performance wise.

Nokia was a juggernaut in Europe and still holds a immense influence here. That's why you see WP with market shares of 10% in European countries. That's all due to the Nokia branding.

However Sony is nothing like Nokia. Nokia focused in one core business - phones - and then added the networks and HERE. Now they'll leave the phones business to concentrate in their patent portfolio and other services at least until 2016. They are constricted. Sony on the other hand is a gigantic corporation, perhaps too big. They spread from the film industry to music to gaming, TVs, phones, PCs etc.

Unlike Nokia, Sony has plenty of options to turn to and that's what they decided to do. Sony's TVs are still very popular the only problem being, obviously, the price. They ARE expensive TVs. Too expensive. That's what allowed Samsung and LG to gain market on them.

That's why I think it's a good idea for Sony to refocus. PCs are unfortunately on decline so why continue to waste money on them when they can relocate those resources to markets that are growing like mobile?
Sony, unlike Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and Google, has a bigger penetration in the entertainment business which is what mobile services are heavily based on. Sony has their own films and music industry, something that none of the others has. That alone is a crucial card to play in the ever growing mobile entertainment business. And if Sony's leaders aren't complete idiots like Nokia's were, they'll play those cards right. They have a unique opportunity to rise as one of the biggest OEMs and they have all that's needed to take Samsungs crown...if they focus efforts like it seems they're trying to do.

I'm optimistic in regards to Sony's plans. I think they were wise doing this. Focusing on what they do well - which is a lot if you think it goes from cameras to phones, tablets consoles - while sending what they're already known for - TVs - to another separate arm and selling the arm that is slowly perishing, seems a wise move in my book. Otherwise they'd be wasting resources from one division into saving another thus preventing the use of those resources in the successful areas.

Why is it a forgone conclusion that Sony will not make a WP or a Win 8 tablet if one of their renewed focuses is now on phones and tablets? 

Man oh man, anybody else notice that WPC articles are getting sloppier and sloppier when it comes to grammar, typos, and just overall lack of proofreading? "In addition it will the TV group its own subsidiary within Sony." What?! C'mon, most of these posts would take all of a minute to proof read...

This isn't new. You can usually guess the author based on the frequency and severity of the mistakes you mention. Most of the time they don't affect comprehension, but sometimes they really do.

But if mobile is one of the three core business units for Sony to focus on why couldn't they still make a windows phone? Just without the vaio name.

I can understand their decision, right now the future is not certain as it was in 2001. Microsoft doesn't have a secure position as the king anymore and it's risky. Today they can sell their PC business for top dollar but in a few years time they could lose much more, instead of being a 'company of everything' they can focus on other devices that they manufacture.

Should they make tablets or should they produce notebooks ? will those devices become one category next year and Windows will be successful ? someone will lose money and the public is undecided. Even Apple needs to adjust instead of postponing the future because it won't last forever. Either their stubbornness will find customers indefinitely that will purchase a classic notebook and additionally a tablet (i.e. doing business the 'proven/tested way') or Microsoft vision of a combined device will be rightfully embraced by the mobile world. The difference is that Microsoft has a lot more to lose while Apple doesn't depend on Macs for their survival, they could get rid of them in 2015 and still make a profit from iOS. 

This news definitely makes me sad. I'm a big fan of Sony and its VAIO line of laptops. What's more, I'm typing this from my Sony VAIO VGN-FW520F as we speak. *sigh* I was actually hoping to be able to buy a new 11.6 inch screen Sony VAIO at some point. Probably won't now.

Well I am glad and excited to see this happening (although it sucks people will be losing jobs).

Sure it's a pity that the VAIO laptops will be going away but it's probably the best. I couldn't be happier to see Sony declare they'll committ more resources into their mobile solutions. Sony smartphones are, to me, the best Androids you can buy and Sony is the only OEM that can come close to Nokia's quality. The fact that they're going to bet more on mobile means they'll be further developing their mobile offerings such as Sony's Walkman (their Xbox Music), Sony's Movies and PlayStation Mobile. If anything Sony has a good chance to finally present a viable threat to Samsung. Because Sony has PlayStation and their film and music industry at their disposal. Those cards, if well played, will certainly boost their smartphone and tablet sales even more (Sony's smartphones are increasingly popular in Europe and even in the US their sales have risen).

 

Now what does this mean to Microsoft? Well, much or nothing. There's nothing preventing Sony to produce a Windows Phone or even Windows tablets. Even if they don't fall under the VAIO brand, Sony can perfectly well create another brand within their mobile division to put a WP in.

However, for a Sony WP to happen, more than ever Microsoft will have to be committed to bring Sony in. And that means allowing Sony to replace Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Xbox Games with Walkman, Sony's Movies and PlayStation Mobile. Is Microsoft willing to do that?

If we think that Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to remove all those Xbox things from the OS and place them as individual apps, then I would say it is very possible that Microsoft allows an OEM like Sony to replace those services. All Microsoft will have to decide is: are they more committed to the Xbox-mobile-offerings or to Windows Phone?
Given how bad Microsoft has managed Xbox-Live Games on Windows Phone, I'd say it's not unlikely to see them allowing their replacement.

Let us see what the future brings. I'm pretty excited to see what's coming from Sony.