Sony May Sell PC Business, But VAIO Fans Should Not Worry
There's talk that Sony may sell its VAIO business to Lenovo or create a stand-alone company.
Two similar reports were published on Tuesday, both of which state that Sony is trying to sell off its PC division. Nikkei reports that Sony is talking with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners, whereas Reuters hears that Sony is in talks with Lenovo. Sony merely states that it's looking at various possibilities for the VAIO line.
Sources told Nikkei over the weekend that a new plan between Japan Industrial Partners and Sony would see the establishment of a new company that would purchase the VAIO lineup. This company would not only continue the sale of VAIO devices, but handle the after-sales service. The sale price is estimated at $391 million USD to $489 million USD.
Sources also said that Sony will take a small stake in the new company to facilitate the transfer. Meanwhile, the company will attempt to solidify its business base at home and maintain operations in overseas markets where the VAIO brand is popular. Other countries and regions will no longer see VAIO devices.
If Sony does take this route, a large number of the company's nearly 1,000 PC division workers will be transferred over to the new company, including executives, while the rest of the crew will be moved to other departments within Sony. Currently, all parties involved with the rumored sale are discussing whether Sony's PC site in Nagano Prefecture would still handle production and R&D in the new company.
As for Reuters' side of the story, sources state that Sony is trying to sell its PC business to Lenovo. The Chinese company declined to comment on the report, and Sony indicated that the report is inaccurate. The latter comments seem to point at the previous Nikkei story.
Just last month, Lenovo revealed an agreement to purchase IBM's low-end server business for $2.3 billion. Then last week the company announced its intentions to purchase Motorola's handset business. Naturally, it's easy to assume that talk of purchasing Sony's VAIO unit would fit into Lenovo's current spending spree. But investing in what seems to be a declining market just doesn't make sense: buying into the smartphone and server business does.
Then again, according to Reuters, Lenovo earns around 80 percent of its revenue from PCs. However, on the mobile front, Lenovo struggles when it comes to the global smartphone market due to a lack of patents and distribution network. The Motorola deal should help Lenovo beef up its global presence, which currently is just above 6 percent.
So what does all this mean for VAIO customers? That depends on which route Sony plans to take. If Sony were to retain some ownership, customers should still receive the same level of assistance with technical issues, and buyers should still see the same quality and innovation that makes the VAIO name popular.
Should Sony really be in a selling mood, VAIO fans might not have anything to worry about if Lenovo picked up Sony's PC business. After all, Lenovo purchased the notebook business from IBM and so far hasn't disappointed even the most faithful of ThinkPad fanatics.