Sony bows out of PC business, sells VAIO to an investment fund

Sony announced today that it will be selling its PC business under the VAIO brand in order to focus on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

It was reported recently that Sony might be looking at revising its product strategy for the VAIO PC business after the company denied having talks with Lenovo for a possible acquisition. Now, the Japanese electronics company has published a press release confirming that it will be selling its PC business to Japan Industrial Partners Inc., as the company does not expect the division to become profitable by the end of the 2013 fiscal year in March. Employees associated with the PC business will be inducted by JIP and current customers will be given service for the promised lifetime of their products.

Sony's plan should not come as a surprise as the worldwide PC shipments have continued to decline throughout 2013 as more customers are buying mobile devices than traditional computers. With the exception of Lenovo, all PC makers have seen negative growth in desktop and laptop sales. Sony's restructure plan which began in 2011 also included its mobile division which managed to break even, after the company dedicated its resources exclusively to smartphones and tablets.

Although the TV division has continued to struggle along with VAIO, Sony would continue to assess product strategies to make it profitable, which includes laying off 5000 employees worldwide and up to 70 billion yen in expenses, by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. 

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I have a 2013 Vaio E-series 15-inch and although it was GREAT value for money (got it on sale, last model in the shop) I have to say the build quality is poor, very disappointing. The touchpad rattles, the keypad rattles, the edging between the touchpad and keypad is loose, all surfaces scratch far too easily, the outer casing is far too flexible for my liking. Also the touchpad takes a long time to wake up properly after sleep - multitouch is always absent for about a minute after waking up the laptop. Also "USB sleep and charge" is unreliable - it's a boon when it actually works though. Also, irritating junkware slows it down.

My next laptop will be a Lenovo, methinks..

tbh, the only sony products I ever loved were their speakers and their discman walkmans. I have a 5.1 surround sound that is 10 years old and still kicking and working fine. every other sony product i bought feel apart or just stopped working. I feel like in the next 10-15 years sony will be even less of a power house as their are right now. Because the only profits they are really making now are on music and movies, and the licensing of those products.

Have a Vaio Z from 2008...still running fine with no problem. My sisters each have one and no probs too. Always liked them...too bad.

I've had a few vaios in my time, not the greatest but not the worst either, and much like apple, overpriced for what's in them, a $1200 ASUS republic of gamers laptop would be closer to $2000 for a vaio with the same specs.

Very very bad news for Microsoft. One less vendor for Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft needs to abandon Windows. Windows is too mature and perhaps cannot grow any longer. Perhaps it's time to just end the line at version 9 and just provide updates.

What Microsoft should do is just go "ALL IN" with Windows Phone and Surface. There, they still have Sony Experia line that they can distribute their OS on.

I really hope you are kidding! I am not sure how you work every day, but at my university, we certainly have a great use of windows, and the more than 10000 or more running it.
It is becoming a great server invironment, I love the windows 2012 server line, so please, if anything it should be the other way around.

Thats a shame, their build quality for desktops and laptops was as close as you could get to a mac at least compared to some of the other major oems

As much as they've fallen short I prefer more competitors in any given market segment. The less there are, the higher the prices, that's bad for us as consumers.

Sony is long past the point of being good competition in any market they are in they are simply in death throws now.

swanlee said,
Sony is long past the point of being good competition in any market they are in they are simply in death throws now.

They still make great TV's. Great cameras, good phones and great games consoles. The consumer in several markets will not be better off without them. Without Sony it'd pretty much be a one horse race in the console market. Samsung would have no decent competition in the TV market, wed lose a great lineup of cameras and phones.

Their stuff is over priced for the quality they still love shoving proprietary formats down everyone's throat. We'd be much better off weith them tanking completely and a newer company stepping in and actually doing something in the space cause right now Sony isn;t doing anything except lopping of their limbs to barely survive.

swanlee said,
Their stuff is over priced for the quality they still love shoving proprietary formats down everyone's throat. We'd be much better off weith them tanking completely and a newer company stepping in and actually doing something in the space cause right now Sony isn;t doing anything except lopping of their limbs to barely survive.

Just because they do some proprietry formats on stuff doesn't mean everyone would be better off if the entire company went belly up.

I think another interesting piece of news is that they are spinning off the tv business.

Sony will split the TV business into a separate, wholly owned unit after saying it will post a 10th straight annual loss.

vcfan said,
I think another interesting piece of news is that they are spinning off the tv business.

Which just sounds to me like they're setting up to sell it off later on.

Still have my Sony VAIO laptop, E series from 3 years ago. Battery is dying and drains when the laptop is off in under a week. Stuck Elementary OS onto it.

The build quality never seemed to match what I have come to expect of more expensive Sony products. I've had one, it's been replaced a couple of times, and recalled twice. finally died a few months ago.

Good, always hated their laptops and they where a pain to open up and fix half the time. Plus, the price for what you get wasn't the best.

About one in two Vaios my company bought needed (expensive) repairs within two years. Where's the "Sony quality" gone from the 80s/90s?

Yeah the Made in Japan stuff is generally good.

But a lot of Sony's stuff isn't made there. Especially for the export market.

Sony was the only other PC OEM who was close to averaging mac prices for it's devices, but then at the same time they never really dropped their prices like other OEMs. The PC division aside the overall problems that Sony has are bigger, even when focusing on phones more they're not doing so good there. I wouldn't be surprised if a year or 2 from now they don't sell off another part of the company.

Their TV business is a big problem too, actually almost everything is. Only the Playstation branch is running smoothly, more or less.

George P said,
Sony was the only other PC OEM who was close to averaging mac prices for it's devices,

that's why they only sold between 1-2 million units a quarter,which is respectable with their pricing,considering they are competing with around 80 million other PCs sold,and macs selling around 4 million a quarter as well. I don't think they wanted to be a volume seller, they just wanted profits.

It's pretty much only the PS4 keeping the game division afloat. PS3 is again tanking in sales and Vita is a legit disaster.

dr_crabman said,
Their TV business is a big problem too, actually almost everything is. Only the Playstation branch is running smoothly, more or less.

Their tv business is essentially just rebranding Samsung panels and selling them at a higher price. I dont think Sony has made any panels for their tv in a long long time now.

Sony makes their own panels, they share tech, IP, and production factory lines with Samsung. But they still engineer their own products.

The LCD panels within BRAVIA TVs are manufactured by S-LCD, a Samsung company. Since 2010, high end Bravia LX, HX and selected NX series use 10th gen Sharp ASV panel. The 8th gen SPVA panel from SLCD continue to serve other midrange and budget Bravia models.

Sony just uses their own firmware on it but the panels are still made by other companies.

Expensive, poor build quality, difficult to get parts for after 18 months (including replacement batteries) and in order to call technical/service support you have to dial a 0900 number (funnily enough barred on the phones of many companies).

If that isn't bad enough, I've seen many examples of their third party outsourced serving partners being incompetent (a simple >paid for< NBD repair that took 18 days), crooks (£760 to fix a broken power button in a netbook) or outright liars with no appreciation of customer service.

Good luck to the investment fund, they couldn't make it much worse imo.

C:Amie said,
Expensive, poor build quality, difficult to get parts for after 18 months (including replacement batteries) and in order to call technical/service support you have to dial a 0900 number (funnily enough barred on the phones of many companies).

If that isn't bad enough, I've seen many examples of their third party outsourced serving partners being incompetent (a simple >paid for< NBD repair that took 18 days), crooks (£760 to fix a broken power button in a netbook) or outright liars with no appreciation of customer service.

Good luck to the investment fund, they couldn't make it much worse imo.

Second this. Back in the day (late nineties) the build quality was pretty good and VAIO was known in IT circles for being expensive but well-built machines. Since then they've most definitely out-sourced everything and build quality has massively dropped. As for support, yes you definitely hit the nail on the head as I had several similar experiences. Some friends that used to have one VAIO after another simply have switched to Mac as they could get (in their opinion) a similar quality machine for a similar pricepoint.

I've owned three Vaios over the years. Not one problem. Two were sold and I run Linux on the other. Different folks always have different experiences.

dead.cell said,
Meh. Their laptops cost too much for the build quality, imo.

it's not always like that. they had a decent 2011 lineup and possibly the best 2012 lineup in relation to price/quality. However I looked really hard during 2013 to upgrade my 2011 Vaio S and everything was ridiculously overpriced and didn't offer enough of what I'm looking for.

For context, the Vaio S is a precursor to ultrabooks and got it at $999 directly from a Sony store + only $50 for the extra sheet battery. They are currently selling the Vaio Pro 13 with a worse CPU and tiny SSD at $1149. Sure, it now has a 1080p IPS touchscreen, but seems like they forgot to offer a more reasonable pricing scheme for people who want a non-touch portable with better muscles.
It's as if the "ultrabook" and "touchscreen" monikers are an excuse to hike the prices.

Kind of sad. I've only ever worked on a couple of them, but they always looked like they were well built machines. Not nearly as durable as the Dell Latitude series, but decent.

Gerowen said,
Not nearly as durable as the Dell Latitude series
My wife would disagree with you, she went through 6-7 Latitude D320 and the last one was STILL having issues

Rudy said,
My wife would disagree with you, she went through 6-7 Latitude D320 and the last one was STILL having issues

Agreed. Dell is as bad as it gets. I've lost count on the number of failures and RMAs I've filed on their junk.

Astra.Xtreme said,

Agreed. Dell is as bad as it gets. I've lost count on the number of failures and RMAs I've filed on their junk.

The one good thing is that because it was a "business" laptop with the better warranty, some poor guy was coming to our house every time.....we got to know him really good