Sony dismisses reports it is selling its loss-making Vaio brand to Lenovo
Sony has denied reports that it wants to sell its VAIO computing brand to Lenovo – a move which would add to the Chinese manufacturer’s strong PC business, based around the Think brand it acquired from IBM.
Japanese broadcaster NHK claimed that Lenovo was in talks to take over Sony’s loss-making Vaio line, which currently covers tablets, laptops, and desktops. Sony dismissed the report as ‘inaccurate’, but did say it was looking as several options for the unit, in a statement released over the weekend.
“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,” the company said.
Sony’s VAIO line of products currently includes both standard laptop and desktop devices, but also features some rather unusual offerings as it attempts to compete with smartphones and small screen tablet devices. This includes the Vaio Fit, described as a ‘multi-flip PC’, which can act as a laptop, tablet, or a screen to view media on, in a similar fashion to Lenovo’s Yoga device. The company also offers an 11 inch tablet device, the Vaio Tap 11, which it describes as ‘the world’s thinnest Windows 8 tablet PC’, which can be attached to a wireless keyboard to transform into a laptop-esque design.
Sony will announce financial results next week, but had previously stated it believes its PC business would make a loss for the year to end-March. Reuters reported that at least one investment firm had cut Sony’s debt rating to junk status last week, highlighting challenges in its television and PC businesses.
According to Gartner, Lenovo ended 2013 as the world’s largest PC manufacturer, accounting for 18.1 percent of all shipments worldwide, up from a 15.8 percent market share last year. The company has looked to assert its strong market position with several acquisitions, last month purchasing IBM’s x86 server business for $2.3 billion (£1.4bn), to signal a move into the server business.
Lenovo is also the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world according to IDC, although currently the majority of its sales are in China. However, last week it announced plans to purchase Motorola Mobility from Google for £1.74 billion, signalling a challenge to larger rivals such as Apple and Samsung.
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