Sony used its latest quarterly results announcement to confirm speculation it will sell its PC business and concentrate on smartphones and tablets.
The company said the “optimal solution” was to concentrate on its mobile product line-up of smartphones and tablets and to transfer its Vaio PC business to a new company set up by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), an investment fund.
The Japanese electronics giant signed a memorandum of understanding with JIP and expects a definitive agreement for the sale of its PC business to be concluded by the end of March.
No financial figure was given for the deal but The Nikkei said the PC business could fetch as much as JPY50 billion ($489 million).
Sony has been making steady progress with its smartphones: in the quarter ending 31 December 2013 it sold 10.7 million smartphones, compared to 10 million in the prior quarter and 8.7 million a year earlier.
Sony’s Mobile Products and Communications unit, which encompasses smartphones, tablets and PCs, reported revenue of JPY461.5 billion, a 44.8 per cent year on year improvement. The unit reported an operating loss of JPY12.6 billion, an improvement on the JPY21.3 billion loss a year earlier.
As has been the case for the past few quarters, the company attributed the revenue growth and reduced loss to “a significant increase in unit sales of smartphones and an increase in the average selling price of smartphones” which was able to partially offset the significant decrease in unit sales of PCs.
In coming to its decision regarding the PC business, Sony said it took into account changes in the global PC industry, its overall portfolio and strategy, the need for continued support for Vaio customers and future employment of personnel involved in the PC business.
As part of a reform strategy it has been following since April 2012, Sony identified PCs and TVs as areas where profitability needed to be improved. The company said it does not think either business will return to profitability by the time the fiscal year ends on 31 March.
However, it feels the TV business is “on a path to turnaround” and aims to establish a structure which will see it deliver stable profit in the fiscal year ending 31 March 2015.