Sony is giving up on the floundering PC market.
Amid its third-quarter 2013 earnings report today, Sony confirmed reports that it plans to sell its Vaio PC business to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners. Without PCs weighing it down, Sony says it will focus more on developing smartphones, tablets, and other post-PC gadgets (which could include wearables down the line).
Additionally, Sony is also splitting out its TV business as a separate company in a bid to make that business more efficient. The company says it should complete the split by July, though it doesn’t foresee the TV business being profitable this year. Sony says it will focus more on high-end TV models this year, including 4K sets and 2K sets with “wider color range and image-enhancing technology.”
My suggestion: Hold out for a cheap 4K TV in a few years (or pray Sony’s glorious 4K short-throw projector gets affordable).
Naturally, all of these business changes will incur some massive layoffs. Sony plans to cut 5,000 jobs by the end of the year, 1,500 of which are in Japan. Despite seeing a slightly better profit last quarter, Sony still expects an annual loss of around $1.1 billion for the 2013 fiscal year.
During the company’s earnings call today, CEO Kaz Hirai called the Vaio PC sale an “agonizing decision.” Before Apple made computers sexy, Sony’s Vaio line led the market in terms of design and build quality. Apple CEO Steve Jobs respected the Vaio so much that he pitched Sony cofounder Akio Morita on a Vaio running Mac OS X in 2001, according to Japanese tech journalist Nobuyuki Hayashi.
But with PC sales going down and with no signs of rebounding any time soon, it doesn’t make much sense for Sony to divert its energy on that market — especially when it desperately needs a killer smartphone and tablet to stay relevant. Sony couldn’t compete with Lenovo’s PC dominance and Apple’s strangehold on the high-end PC market. And with Lenovo picking up Motorola, the competition among mobile devices is about to get much more fierce.