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Sony currently in talks to sell off its PC division - various options are on the table

Are you enjoying one of Sony’s VAIO Windows PCs (such as the Sony Duo we just reviewed)? If so, you may be in for a bit of surprise when you hear that the company is possibly planning to sell off its PC division. Sony’s PC line has performed poorly for the company, especially when compared to their gaming and home entertainment division.

According to reports from, Nikkei, the Sony Corporation has plans to sell off its PC division for up to 50 billion yen ($490 million). Sony has been reported to be looking into either possibly selling the division off to a new company and then investing stake in the firm or forming a joint venture with Chinese PC manufacturer, Lenovo.

A Japanese NHK reporter voiced the original claim that a Lenovo joint venture might be in the process on Saturday. Sony responded by saying that the NHK statement was inaccurate, but stated that the company was in fact looking at different possibilities for the future of their VAIO brand. Lenovo was not willing to give any official comment to news at this time.

Sony's VAIO Duo 13

In a complimentary report, Engadget states that they had spoken to a Sony representative who had said that the company was looking at various options for VAIO, but a joint venture with Lenovo was not something that was currently on the table.

"A press report on February 1, 2014 stated that Sony Corporation ("Sony") is discussing with Lenovo Group ("Lenovo") the possible establishment of a joint venture for the PC business. As Sony has announced previously, Sony continues to address various options for the PC business, but the press report on a possible PC business alliance between Sony and Lenovo is inaccurate."

Sony has always focused on higher end Windows PCs and has apparently been unable to hit the numbers to compete in the space without financial loss. Sony had made a comment that the possible change of strategy for VAIO comes at a time when smartphones and tablets “chip away at its PC business”.

There has been no concrete statement that VAIO will be sold off at this time, but Sony does not dismiss it as a possible option. We expect to see some restructuring of the brand’ internal product strategy at the very least in the near future.

Are you currently a Sony VAIO user – how would you feel if they sold off the brand?

Source: Engadget, Nikkei; via Reuters

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Reader comments

Sony currently in talks to sell off its PC division - various options are on the table

127 Comments

Honestly I always though their quality was worth the price, I was saving up for a win8 tablet PC but I guess I may have to look elsewhere when I can afford one :/

I have a Sony "desktop replacement" laptop, the build quality is terrible. When I first bought it a little over a year ago it was sent for repair 3 times, once for the screen not turning on, once for the laptop not turning on and once for the right hand side of the keyboard not working. Now that its out of warranty the charger has broken so i had to buy a new one, the charger itself never wanted to stay plugged in the laptop and would fall out if you moved slightly whilst using it. Now it will only charge if you have the pug at exactly the right angle because the pins inside the laptop are buggered. Occasionally the screen will go mental and freak out so it needs restarting, and you just have to hope you saved recently. And the annoying thing which is actually a design feature is that the trackpad isn't smooth, its sharp and bumpy which makes my spine shivver whenever i use it, so i have taped a bit of smooth plastic over it so I can use it. All in all, pretty shoddy and I wasn't planning on ever buying another one. I would like to use my surface pro for everything, but I cannot connect to my works remote office because it works on RD Web Access 2008, and windows 8 isn't backwards compatible and will only connect to 2013. Since my office still has Vista computers (although built for Windows 7??) I doubt they will be upgrading the web access any time soon. So that is the only thing the laptop is used for these days. (when I can get the plug to stay in just the right position)

My VAIO is a piece of shit.... but who do I blame?

Sony?  

Or Toshiba for the shitty harddrive that failed?

Or Optiarc for the shitty blu-ray drive that failed after ONE year?  (Optiarc BTW... owned by Sony).  - THE SINGLE REASON I BOUGHT THIS LAPTOP AT THE TIME WAS IT WAS THE ONLY CONSUMER LAPTOP THAT CAME WITH A BD-DRIVE.

Or whoever it was that built the memory card reader that no longer reads memory cards?

Who built the crappy battery that, after ONE year of ownership, can't hold a charge for more than 15 minutes?

 

Even if you want to blame all other manufacturers for the crap hardware...  I can still blame Sony for the unreasonable amount of bloatware that came on the laptop.  

 

Cool story indeed.  Because Sony sucks.  Never again.

You can still blame Sony for sourcing poor parts for their products. I forgot that my memory card reader doesn't work either, but I never really have much use for it anyway. My battery on the other hand is probably the best part, it still holds charge for hours. Oh and the bloatware, I just installed fresh Win 7 for work (and now dual boot to Win 8)

I have 3 all in one Sony Viao and love them. 2 are touch screens and had then for 2 of them for over 3 years without any problems. The none touch screen 22" viao i have had for 4 years without any problems whatsoever. Great build solid performance.

I had Asus G series. It's GPU fan failed and it overheated.

It broke during waranty period but after battery waranty expired. They said me that I violated waranty by not replacing battery after a year.

Sue them, you don't have to have a battery if you don't want you, you can use it from the mains. It can it be a stipulation of the warranty that a consumable is replaced unless it caused the fault.

Exactly.

I had Asus and Acer, now I have Sony and I think it is worth the money. It has Macbook quality with Windows.

If blackberry had the money they'd be the perfect fit for business oriented PC maker and they already have the fan base

For the 101st time.. Microsoft bought the part of Nokia that matters. The part that 90% of the people know and care about. 

Except Nokia still exists and can perfectly well return to phones in 2016. It wouldn't be the first company to do it. So keep saying "Microsoft bought Nokia" is not just innacurate...it's a lie.

 

But you are correct that they bought the part people care about. And they'll pay for that in sales post-Nokia ;)

But every person at Nokia who made phones is going to Microsoft.. Helloooo. They *could* definately start building phones again in 2016 ..but they wouldn't be Nokia phones..only Nokia phones in name

One word: Jolla. Keep your eyes on the folks at Jolla. And remember...they were all Nokia employees. Also, we don't know yet how many Nokia employees will accept to move to Microsoft.

Let the sale of the D&S division be all approved and the integration starts and lets see who's going who's quiting. And lets see what Nokia will do with Jolla...a company of ex-Nokia employees, funded by Nokia, using Nokia patents and running Nokia services...(come on...there's way too much Nokia at Jolla for it to remain independent for long)

 

What makes a Nokia phone isn't the people who assemble it. It's the spirit and guidelines behind them. Over the years many people have come and gone from Nokia. But the phones quality remained. Microsoft can buy the employees...but not the spirit behind the brand. They have their own MS spirit. Whether it's better or worse than Nokia's, that's a matter of opinion. ;)

He's got the point. Microsoft's got talent, patents, current core tech from Nokia. But they are already planning to drop Nokia and Lumia names (much as I have seen on the web) and they also might go away from Nokia colorful shells and shapes to more angular and metal "Surface-style" design. OS is already theirs, and tech comes from Qualcomm.

Eventually, does it matter? I'd like Nokia and Lumia names to stay, but given the same device with "Surface" name on it - should I really care if it is made with same quality as current high-end Nokias. Even if it looks and is named differently.

jeez, get over it.  stop saying that all they're paying for is employees.  Microsoft is not in the business of slave trading...  they're buying all the facilities involved with the mobile business, including the R&D and the manufacturing facilities.  they're not buying employees, they're getting all their technical knowledge and expertise.  you can't easily replace 32000 people with former Nokia employees.

The "spirit" of the brand?  Nokia was built by those 32000 people and most of those 32000 people are coming to Microsoft.

^^^^  THIS!!

 

Of course, onlysublime, you will have to post this on about 322 more articles between now and the time MS finally completes the purchase of the ENTIRE HANDSET DIVISION OF NOKIA, THOUGH NOT NOKIA ITSELF. (Is that accurate enough?)

 

I suggest just "cutting and pasting".  It will be easier on your typing fingers.

What the other guy is saying is that a quality proponent of Nokia already left to develop their own phone Jolla.

and regardless of what anyone here thinks if Nokia had been allowed to continue down the path of Meego it never would have needed to have its division bought out.

Do some research, the Nokia N9 had the highest critical acclaim of any phone at the time, above the Iphone, the Galaxy, everything. The only negative was a direct result of Elop's own words "this is the first and last Meego device" so every single glowing review would end with the words "this phone us dead before it even starts".

Elop even refused to release the phone in major markets even though it was rapidly selling out while the Lumia range struggled to gain any traction at the time. The Lumia (800 I think was the phone at the time) in the bigger markets and yet the N9 was selling in greater numbers.

even every major Lumia phone you see now lends itself to the design of the N9 which was always touted as the best looking phone back then, and hell it still is (if it wasn't Nokia wouldn't keep rehashing the style).

To put it bluntly Elop corroded Nokia from the inside in an effort for Microsoft to get a major player in the Windows Phone range. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional and clearly hasn't been following Nokia for longer than WP.

Oh well though, as pissed off as I still am about it there isn't anything we can do about it now. I just wish the Jolla team had the same resources that the Nokia/Microsoft partnership because their design is incredible, but it just isn't widely available.

Wait! First you were buying a Z1, then a 5S, now you're also waiting to buy a Jolla? That's good news... so when are you finally leaving! You keep saying you'll leave but you never do! What are you, a leech or something?! LOL!

Dude, you remind me of the Atari die-hards who insisted that "Atari COULD come back to the PC market if the Jaguar succeeds" for years after they stopped making PCs.

Nokia, as you knew it, is dead, gone and over.

It's now a B2B business selling networking hardware and patents.

Its low margin consumer business is now part of Microsoft.

And they're not going to get back into the low-margin handset business.  Ever.  Just like Atari never got back into the PC business.

They haven't bought anything yet.

They plan to buy Nokia's smartphone branch. People, buildings and theier mobile software. They will also acquire Lumia and Asha trademarks.

Bought the device division.....
.....................
But, MS should offer Sony a good deal in exchange for Sony giving WP the Nokia treatment....

That deal would require Microsoft to remove Xbox stuff from WP and allowing Sony to replace it with their Playstation services. Do you think Microsoft is willing to do that?

Use your brains.

Sony and Microsoft have two platforms that compete with each other. All that Microsoft has under the Xbox brand, Sony has under the Playstation brand. Video, Music, games etc.

Why on Earth would Sony produce phones under their brand and put in them services from the competition? If Sony can't put their Playstation services on an eventual WP device by them, they have absolutely no reason to produce a WP in the first place.

Of course!!! Because Windows 8 machines made by Sony don't run the Xbox Smartglass, Xbox Live Games, Xbox Music, Xbox Video...

 

Hehehehe.

As I've said above, the Playstation services aren't designed for PC but for mobile. Walkman etc are Playstation MOBILE services. And therefore, unlike the PCs, in a potential WP they would colide with Xbox services.

They're still perpetuating the Xbox brand holistically regardless of the form factor. Also, Microsoft has their services on all platforms regardless if its cannibalizing their own platform, because it makes business sense. Branding is not the only criteria. They do what's right for the bottom line. Google will learn this soon.

PS services can be used on a PC. I bet Sony could do a WP8 phone with a playstation hub. They offer PS services on non Sony phones. But its a matter to be settled btw Sony and MS.

PC is a tough business now a days with everybody buying smartphones, tablets, phablets and the like. If they sell to Lenovo, it will be great as they helped keep the ThinkPad around for business users after IBM. They will have a good business line along with premium line if they acquire Sony PC division.

I used to support Lenovo until they replace the classic Thinkpad keyboard with an inferior one. Thinkpads never feel the same anymore. Shame really. I wish Sony keeps their PC division & designs really extraordinary Japanese style transforming laptops like they are doing now.

Interesting. Profits are quite thin in the OEM business but is Lenovo really making that much to grab Motorola ($2.9 billion) and then immediately buy Sony's PC division? Not saying that raising the capital is an issue but that's two big acquisitions for businesses that are struggling. I doubt this will go through.

Have a feeling this will be like the HP case where they'll be unable to find someone willing to buy the division off and will finally call the sale off.

Sony does make some really solid hardware. Could be a bit of a loss if they end up slashing it to some company that cannot maintain the quality.

Oh and No! Microsoft does not need to buy Sony. Microsoft is a software company and needs to stay that way and not try to be like Google. Nokia is an exception because they were like on two different worlds. Plus if you buy Sony you strain the relationship with other OEM's thinking your playing favorite ala (Google with Motorola).

I'm sure MS won't buy Sony, that is not their game plan. But they are a "devices and services" company now, not a software company.

As for Sony, they just need to work a bit harder. They make good laptops, but they are all a little flawed. I have been looking for months to buy a new laptop and was tempted by many in Sony's range. Flip, Fit, Duo, Tap, Pro, couple of others, but none of them were quite right. They have too many models and none of them perfect. They are in a mess like they used to be with their phones. They just need to consolodate, produce two of three models only and make them perfect. Not 10 models, 6 sizes, none of which are top of their game. There's a Flip 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 - come on Sony choice is good and all, but that's just too much. Have a 11, 13, 15 at most. Work out what form factor is best and concentrate on that; Flip, Tap and Pro for instance.

They don't need to sell, just build better machines and they will sell way more. Windows 8 is finally starting to get good reviews and be accepted. Windows Phone 8.1 will also likewise have strong growth this year. They need to bring out some WP phones, have them work well with their laptops and they can easily sell double what they do currently - take share from Acer, Asus, Samsung, etc. They have a strong brand, they have pushed their prices down from where they used to be. Go for quality, integration and they can lead again.

Bought myself a HP Spectre 13, gorgeous machine - but always had a soft spot for Sony and hope they sort things out so I can contemplate them in a couple of years again.

If the selling of their Vaio PC division means they'll be shifting focus to their mobile offers, then I'm all for it. Sell Vaio away and concentrate efforts in their smartphones and tablets where they are gaining momentum.

Why not. If Microsoft pays them as they do to Samsung and HTC and removes Xbox stuff in exchange for Playstation stuff, Sony might do it.

Xbox services are available on Sony's Viao PCs, so why would they request the removal of Xbox services from a Sony WP?

That's because Sony's Playstation services are MOBILE and not PC services. That's the difference.

Dude, sorry, but one key factor for the existence of wp8 is that MS can sell their services, software, eco system, & etc. If not that what would they get in return from having Sony produce a wps.

Maybe if Sony released a WP with PSN services it might actually give Microsoft the kick in the arse they to actually get around to sorting out their own offering.

If this happens be prepared for people to start saying MS bought Sony ;)
Also Sony hasn't really linked psn to its phone line up overly well and you can currently access Xbox services on their phones through the various MS apps available on the Google Play store.

Selling off the PC division? Windows 8 isn't the blame here is it ir is it simply the mobile advance? How successful have they been in the PC market anyway?

Wow didn't see this coming. Like other commenters said already..nice computers. Just a tad expensive. Almost sad to see it put in to the hands of another company. Even if its not official.

My friend had a Sony Vaio laptop that was a piece of junk. It was overpriced and didn't last long. I'd never buy a Sony. OTOH, Lenovo products are high quality. Maybe Lenovo would improve the Vaio line (if it even keeps it around).

Exactly. Sony may make a good phone but their PC line is junk riddled with junk. Lenovos AIO line is some of the best I have worked on.

Sony is shell of the company it once was...it stopped innovating and continued to sell its products at very high prices when there were/are other cheaper alternatives that matched or bettered Sony's offerings...

I have a VAIO Pro 13 and it has been plagued with hardware and software issues since launch. No mode of recourse, either, just warranty service on a lemon (many others are having this issue in the Sony forums). I had already decided to never buy a Sony again, but it looks like it may not be an option soon! Good riddance.

Well, considering what Lenovo has done with the ThinkPad brand, I'd rather not have them ruin anything else.

Once VAIO was a piece of beauty but lately the aesthetic quality has dropped. They need some serious shake up to keep itself in the market for which a JV would be a good option specially with a company looking to enter into the new market.

Samsung will not buy it as they are at a position where they can easily develop their own brand.

Sony is desperate for money.  Credit rating now at junk status.  They've sold off buildings and tons of assets to become profitable.  Samsung should just put them out of their misery.  Or Nintendo could buy them and instantly rise up in video games.

I'd rather they kept the PC division. If they invest in it it will produce returns down the road. They just have to be patient and not bend to every whim of the share holders.

Come on Sony, just do something awesome like the recent phones released by you.
Launch a waterproof windows tablet like the xperia tablet

To be honest in this age of mobility, smartphones and tablets are available at prices previously unimaginable off (52x series, 8 inch tabs) that have more than enough compute power compared to your average netbook. People will just buy tablets and add a keyboard to it. Thus getting the best of both worlds. Not many people carry laptops either or purchase desktop pcs, enthusiasts will always build their own. Sony should start making tablets with LTE and a stylus as standard, at least that would give them a foot hold in that market before it becomes saturated.

Besides the VAIO line up is not what you call cheap and affordable either, given the economic downturn it is hard to justify purchasing a VAIO when you can get a comparable machine from other oems at a cheaper price point. Sure you don't get the build quality you get from a VAIO. But on a budget any cheapo laptop will do especially if you are doing the just web browsing, streaming with the occassional use of office.

If you tool around the internets, even these comments here, the idea of VAIO 'build quality' is subjective and inconsistent.

 

The reality of any hardware is this:

Minority with problems = Good build quality

Majority with problems = Bad build quality

50/50 of good and bad = Bad build quality

Not surprising seeing as how Sony loses billions every year in their electronics division. Mostly due to TVs and Playstation

I have a vaio laptop and I love it. I hope they don't do it. I hope they still plan on making a WP because only having Nokia phones is really boring.

VAIO laptops have the best designs, rank right up there with MacBooks.

lately though, their reliability has been going down. i've heard too many stories about people's sony latops problems. i guess sony's pc era is through.

It's because of their bloat/crapware that users always hated, and more expensive prices. It's simple.

Had Sony listened to its user base and complaints, they would actually be on par with Apple and HP by changing such simple things.

As owner of an IT biz, I stopped selling & recommending Sony years ago as a result of the countless unnecessary crapware being preloaded onto their computers. Our customers would call us in confusion wondering which apps to use since Sony always loaded 20+ "duplicate" programs that were already in Windows.

They shot themselves in the foot. Good riddance Sony.

Their designs were always very impressive, but their quality has taken a nosedive. People don't Remember but many years ago Apple hired some their top engineers that were laid off at the time and it seems they took the quality out the door with them over to the fruit company. But it will be sad to see them exit the PC market because their designers are quite good at their job.

Wasn't the recent story of Sony making WP8 phones saying that they would be branded VAIO, and not Xperia? So if they flog off their PC division, that would probably mean selling the VAIO brand as well.

If so, I can't see Sony making any WP8 devices. 

Looks like Apple is the only one currently making decent profit on laptops. Not surprising though, the new Vaio Pro is garbage compared to a Retina MacBook Pro at the same price.

I've had my Sony VAIO that runs Windows 7 since early 2010. Love it. Great quality machine. By the way, I read about this the other day, but then read that Sony apparently denied the rumors about selling its PC division to Lenovo.

I didn't even know that sony made PC's until I saw this article. It obviously can't be a very big business for them if I've never seen or heard of them in shops or online.

I had a Sony Vaio from the Vista era, which I upgraded to Windows 7. Sure it was overpriced. Sure it had a factory defect on the GPU. I ended up sending it to Sony service when it gave in. They replaced the GPU for free and mailed it back along with a complimentary screen wiping cloth and a letter of appology, even though the warranty had already expired. I have to say that the chassis quality was very good, both material-wise and design-wise. The battery, on the other hand, degraded when it was plugged in. Guess they didn't have a way to reroute the power straight to the PC, without touching the battery when it was fully charged, back then.

Now I have a crappy cheap Samsung which I regret buying. The silver spray paint on it is coming off...

In the next months I'm planning on going back to Sony Vaio with a 15" Fit Multi-flip, because I think it's the most well thought out hybrid, and even has a dedicated GPU.

After owning numerous Sony, Samsung, and Asus laptops, I have come to the conclusion that I would only buy a business laptop from now on.

It does not matter from which company, get it from Dell, Lenovo, or HP. Business laptops have constantly better build quality, cooling, and longevity.

 

I think Sony should already consider on catering midrange or low end lines for there Viao division, because let's face it with the stiff competition of laptops and pc that runs on windows platform, going to midrange and lower end could make the Viao division sell well... It's very hard when the Viao is gone from sony for ones when I was about to buy my very first laptop way back 2011 I only consider 2 options and one of those is the Viao before I come to the final decision of buying a mac book pro...because Sony viao have a strong feel of eliteness that Mac books bring in

As a Vaio Duo 11 owner... My next laptop will definitely NOT be a Sony... Shame, their laptops have always been nice, especially the designs. Maybe I'll get the Surface Pro 3 next or something... I wish Lenovo or the others step up on the design part.