Sony Reportedly Selling Vaio PC Business To Investment Fund

Yet more reports claim that Japanese electronics giant is looking to exit the PC market, shift focus to mobile devices

Several reports indicate that Sony is getting ready to sell its Vaio PC business to a Japanese investment fund and instead focus on smartphones and tablets.

A report in the Nikkei said that the company was in talks with Japan Industrial Partners, looking to get up to 50 billion yen (£302.7m) for the struggling division. Sources later told Reuters that the deal meant the future of Vaio outside of Japan was uncertain.

On Saturday, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that Sony was planning to sell the PC division to Chinese rival Lenovo – already the largest PC manufacturer in the world. Sony later denied these claims, but did say it was looking at “various options for the PC business”.

Changing direction

Sony’s Vaio brand, launched in 1996, currently includes laptops and desktops alongside some rather unusual offerings that attempt to compete with smartphones and tablets. These include the Vaio Fit, described as a ‘multi-flip PC’, which can act as a laptop, tablet, or simply a screen, in a similar fashion to Lenovo’s Yoga device.

Vaio Tap 11According to Nikkei, Sony is selling its PC business to a new company established by the investment fund in Japan.  It will have a small stake in the venture, but the deal would result in net loss for Sony in the financial year ending in March. Reuters later reported that Vaio PCs could leave some overseas markets altogether.

Research by Canalys suggests that in 2014, tablet shipments will continue to grow at the expense of traditional PCs. Over the course of the year, analysts expect manufacturers to ship 285 million tablets, 192 million notebooks and 98 million desktop PCs. IDC previously estimated that tablet shipments will overtake PC shipments by 2015.

Sony is responsible for a successful range of Xperia devices based on Google’s Android OS, including waterproof Xperia ZR and Xperia Z Ultra. 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’. It can be attached to a wireless keyboard to transform into a laptop-esque design.

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