Sony has been on a mission to turn around its sagging profits for some time. So far, that transition has included, buying out then partner Ericsson and taking over its mobile phone business completely, selling the Gracenote music metadata service and its headquarters in the New York City. Reports indicate that Sony VAIO, the company’s traditional laptop and desktop PC business, might be the next casualty in the company’s quest to find its long-lost reputation with consumers.
Sources who spoke with Reuters and The Wall Street Journal indicate that Sony does indeed plan to rid itself of the personal computer business. However, instead of selling the business to a separate company, a report from Nikkei indicates that Sony will sell the VAIO business to Japan Industrial Partners, an investment firm in Japan, for between $391 million and $481 million.
This investment firm would take the lead in managing VAIO but Sony would hold a small stake in the company going forward. Allegedly, the plan also includes VAIO PCs disappearing from most markets except Japan. Though it would continue to operate in Japan, it’d manufacture PCs with a specific focus on businesses.
The story sounds plausible based on what we’ve already seen of Sony’s comeback strategy and the strengths of the VAIO PC business. Sony VAIO PCs are known in enthusiast circles for their daring design – and rather high price tag. It’s believed that despite the high cost of their PCs VAIO still loses money for Sony. That’s not exactly a good thing considering Sony has shown that its willing to cut any drains on its cash flow.
It’s also worth noting that the PC business isn’t exactly as lucrative for companies as it once was. HP previously announced that it was investigating selling its PC business and IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo some time ago. While sagging PC sales are part of the problem, it doesn’t help that PC vendors attempted to slash costs for buyers so much that they left themselves with barely any margin at all. That the PC business is under attack from other portables like tablets and smartphones isn’t helping either.
Sony has only confirmed that it has made no announcements about its VAIO PC business. It hasn’t refuted reports of the sale. Sony last introduced new VAIO PCs during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.