Sony has confirmed plans to sell off its PC business to Japan Industrial Partners or JIP Inc. So what does this mean for the Vaio line of computers?
The short answer is not a whole lot in the extreme short term. Sony said today that it will cease in the planning, design, and development of PC products, which includes the Vaio-branded machines. However, the company has a spring 2014 lineup that it plans to launch worldwide, so you will still see Vaio laptops on shelves this year. And, even then, the Vaio spirit will live on at a new company.
Sony said today that as many as 300 employees are expected to be hired by the new JIP-established company. Though Sony doesn't specifically say which departments these employees are coming from, the company did say that they are involved in PC operations including planning, design, development, manufacturing and sales. It's entirely possible that the same people responsible for the design and manufacture of today's Vaios will still be doing the same work six months from now, or a year from now, just in a different office. An office that is more focused on the success of these machines because it's not worrying about the PS4 or the Xperia line of mobile devices.
There was a time when Sony's Vaio computers were some of the hottest laptops around, and the brand still has fans. To that end, Sony plans to provide support for and aftercare services for customers even after it withdraws from the PC market. As an aside, if you've had your eye on a Vaio for a while, now might be the time to get one. One of the only details we do know for certain about the future of Sony's PC business is that JIP will focus on the Japanese market, at least at first. Sony said that JIP will initially concentrate on console and corporate PC sales in Japan and evaluate possible expansion down the road. So once the current generation of Vaio computers passes its sell by date, you won't see anymore for a while.
The real question is how long Sony plans to provide support for current and new users. We've asked the company if it has some kind of cut off in place in terms of date of purchase, or if it will be only offering support for certain models, but have yet to hear back. We'll keep you posted!