back to article Sony set to axe 5,000 workers worldwide as it flings PC biz overboard

Stumbling consumer electronics giant Sony has confirmed it will axe 5,000 workers worldwide and offload its loss-making PC business to private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). The ailing Japanese corporate revealed the restructure as it forecast a ¥110bn loss (£665m) for the current financial year ending March …

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  1. Goldmember

    Not surprising

    "it was non-existent in the business market"

    VAIOs have never been much good. They're very pretty, which on its own makes them expensive. But performance is underwhelming, and they're unreliable.

    It's a shame really, as other Sony divisions produce some top quality kit.

    1. LarsG

      Re: Not surprising

      No more Vaio's?

      No real loss.

      Sony must be in serious disarray .

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising

      Logically then Apple will shutter the Macs (servers gone) and release a 13" iOS tablet with Bluetooth keyboard.

      Apple unlike Nokia, Google, Intel (ARM to Marvell), IBM or Sony has too much ego to actually sell off a division.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not surprising

        "Logically then Apple will shutter the Macs (servers gone) and release a 13" iOS tablet with Bluetooth keyboard.

        Apple unlike Nokia, Google, Intel (ARM to Marvell), IBM or Sony has too much ego to actually sell off a division."

        Came basically for this. The only difference between a VAIO laptop and a Macbook is the logo on the back. Apple will continue with their 2% marketshare though.

    3. ItsNotMe
      Facepalm

      Re: Not surprising

      "VAIOs have never been much good. They're very pretty, which on its own makes them expensive. But performance is underwhelming, and they're unreliable."

      Let me tell you all a funny story about SONY computers.

      A very dear friend who is no longer living, was a personal assistant to Sir Howard Stringer from many years. Started off with him when he was at the CBS television network in New York. She move around with him over the years as he changed positions, and companies.

      One day, not long after Sir Howard had become Chairman & CEO of SONY, she called me to ask for my advice on buying a laptop computer for herself and her boyfriend. Of course my first question to her was "why not a SONY?"

      Her reply was "no one who works for SONY would own actually one of their computers. Too unreliable, and the support is non-existent." I laughed my a$$ off!

      I recommended, and she purchased, two IBM (pre-Lenovo) ThinkPads.

    4. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Not surprising

      Total bollocks, basically..

      I have a Vaio Z12, my girlfriend has a Vaio S13 Premium, show me other laptops that have full voltage CPUs and discrete graphics with a 13" 1600x900 screen, RAID0 SSDs AND an optical drive in a thin and light package.

      You can't, and they're basically absolute gems of machines with no equal.

      They are also not part of the current line up, and nor is any alternative. Which is kind of the point. They don't have any laptops right now I'd want. But in the recent past they've made machines that I'd still take over any currently available machine.

      If they focused keenly on only these top end devices, and left the mainstream scraps to others, they'd have a smaller but premium brand reputation that could easily be well deserved.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprising

      VAIOs have never been much good

      In my experience, that depended on which one you bought - there is quite a range, and quality seemed to vary accordingly. The last 2 I had before I switched to Macbook Pro (and OSX) were top of the line and they were good machines (admittedly crap battery life, but that wasn't an issue for me). They also got on quite well with Linux, which was critical for my use.

      The only thing I did not like was the humongous amount of crapware that was installed by default, and that was always a battle to uninstall without accidentally nuking some dependency.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprising

      There are entry level and high end models. I picked up a 17in VAIO with a great display, double drive bays (now running striped ssd) and a decent sized keyboard. Its still going strong and getting regular use. A really fine investment.

      Thing is, we are entering the brave new world where consumers don't need computers running windows anymore.

      Sony saw this and got out at the right time.

  2. Mark Allen

    Is this laptops as well?

    I quite liked Sony kit. Once you got rid of all the crudware that Sony would bundle there was usually a decent machine underneath. When I got a heavy Windows user who started to talk Apple to me, I'd usually steer them to Sony kit for better value. If they had money to burn - it might as well be on a Sony.

    Now I have to work out where to steer my clients who want to spend lots of cash on something pretty and stylish.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Is this laptops as well?

      Samsung make some very nice laptops. The Series 9 ones are sleek, robust and well built.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this laptops as well?

      Or you could just let them buy Apple laptops, because they can run Windows too.

      1. Mark Allen

        Re: Is this laptops as well?

        The Apple troll is just too obvious. I enjoy supporting Apple kit as I get more support calls for it. The random email problems, the strange downgrades of their software.

        It was interesting last month playing with a brand new Sony laptop and comparing it to the Apple Mac. The Sony was just so much better in many ways. Looks, design, styling. Just little things like how the speakers were setup in the hinge.

        Or the way they get round the lack of Ethernet port. On a Mac they just assume you will use Wireless. Hardluck if you are in a room without a WiFi signal. With the Sony they had added a tiny WiFi Access point in the box. This tiny Access Point just clipped to the laptop's power brick and then connected to Ethernet. Such a nice, simple, elegant solution.

        And the guy down there bashing the support... I guess I was just lucky. Emails replied to, and phone calls to a Dutchman who not only knew his stuff but also phoned me back and paid for the call.

        So... back to the drawing board for the people with excess cash... Samsung is certainly part of the thoughts, but again with the bloatware... I wish these PC guys would stop that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this laptops as well?

          The Apple troll is just too obvious. I enjoy supporting Apple kit as I get more support calls for it. The random email problems, the strange downgrades of their software.

          Ah, a Windows troll then - interesting how many more have shown up off late :). You're entitled to your own delusions, but I've never seen a downgrade, ever. Oh, and every upgrade has actually been worth it - few Mac users seek to avoid updates as much as Windows users do (admittedly, this could also be because updates don't actually cost much and tend to work quite well).

          I liked the Sony machines I used (mostly VGN 13"), but for the bloat that came with installation. I would have looked at Samsung, but my new MBP has enough power to run a Linux VM which works better for what I do (as always, YMMV).

  3. MJI Silver badge

    Their market

    As a desktop user I am not a laptop expert, you do not do self builds.

    So they made nice looking laptops with a premium feel.

    What would people recommend for premium laptops now?

    My daughter bought one, partly due to being nice looking, and she could play with one, and it was NOT PC world.

    My sons will want laptops soon, they are thinking of Alienware but they are expensive

    1. wowfood

      Re: Their market

      I've actually found the novatech laptops to be a pretty high quality thus far.

      www.novatech.co.uk

      1. Mark Allen

        Re: Their market

        Novatech? I hope they have improved from the past. Last saw a self-build Novatech laptop about seven years ago and it was such a mess of an overheating build it made me run away from all self-build laptops.

        At least when the big guys build laptops they have the economy of scale to work with meaning problems get spotted earlier and the recalls are put in to place.

        Lenovo - solid is a word I'd use for them. Certainly handy for a machine that is moved around a lot, but not exactly pretty. Great for us IT geeks, but my clients include artists who pick machines based on colour...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Big guys?

          Big guys like HP push out many models with serious overheating problems (and this is recent history). Never had a problem with Novatech, but then I've only used them for the last 3 yrs, so perhaps they had some issues years ago

          1. Mark Allen

            Re: Big guys?

            I don't want to look like some fool just bashing Novatech. This was at least six or seven years ago, maybe more. And if they are still building them they would have learnt from the mistakes by now.

            And yeah... HP... well the less said there the better. So many laptops built with fans designed to eat dust and fluff and then not be cleanable. That little layer of solid fluff and grott that builds up between the fan and copper heatsink. First time I saw that wedge of grime I thought it was a filter... until I poked it.

    2. chappers

      Re: Their market

      custom laptop/pc ?

      http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/

    3. Rupert Roker

      Re: Their market

      Personally I'd recommend exactly what I'd have recommended before this news - if you're in the market for a premium laptop for anything other than gaming buy a Thinkpad (and even if you're wanting to play games, if you can live with the performance of Haswell, still buy a Thinkpad).

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Their market -- agreed

        I shall be sending my son to uni with a nice cheap, robust Thinkpad to do proper portable work on. With the money I save I shall buy a nice monitor he can use back at digs. And maybe a nice Thunderbolt external graphics box in case he fancies a spot of gaming.

        In my experience Stinkpads survive drops, spills and years of 'utilitarian' handling. They also don't attract attention. If he does break it, or loses it, I'll just buy him another. My stepdaughter's dad bought her a MacBook pro costing more than a good-enough laptop and a great gaming rig combined. It does look the bomb, but ... and I bet it's not insured.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Their market

        >still buy a Thinkpad

        And if you really need a laptop to survive being mobile then make it a T-series, unless you can justify a Panasonic toughbook...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Their market

          Avoid Lenovo era Thinkpads.

          While my IBM TP 380Z still trundles along for occasional retro gaming, my Lenovo TP 410 needed 3 (!) replacements after the fan stopped spinning. Eventually it was crashing a lot (IRQ not less than or equal?) then ground to a halt (HD in death throes).

          I would not recommend a Lenovo Thinkpad to anybody.

          I did have a VAOIAOAIO about 12 years ago, nice machine at the time. Was great until the fan stopped spinning (although consuming half a bottle of beer might've played a factor in it's demise).

          For some reason the model I had had a different shaped CPU fan to other, presumably more popular models, I never did find a replacement. Ended up breaking, salvaged the HDD and sold the screen and casing for parts.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Their market

      "As a desktop user I am not a laptop expert, you do not do self builds.

      So they made nice looking laptops with a premium feel.

      What would people recommend for premium laptops now?

      My daughter bought one, partly due to being nice looking, and she could play with one, and it was NOT PC world.

      My sons will want laptops soon, they are thinking of Alienware but they are expensive"

      I'm really confused here. Just because you like building desktops that should not at all limit your knowledge in the laptop world. It is the same parts.

      If you are buying a VAIO/Macbook/Alienware, then you're wasting money, for one. You're paying for the "case" to be metal instead of plastic, or to have more LEDs decorating it, nothing else.

      Alienware is owned by Dell. Never buy Dell. They're practically going out of business for a reason. The typical ranking these days is:

      Lenovo

      Samsung

      HP

      ...

      Toshiba

      Acer/Asus/Whatever

      ...

      ...

      ...

      Apple

      Gateway

      Dell

      1. Piro Silver badge

        Re: Their market

        I've always had a soft spot for Dells.

        My Precision M4400 with the 1920x1200 screen is a nice piece of kit for the age, and can still play games passably on the Quadro FX 770M.

  4. MJI Silver badge

    Custom laptops

    Well those sites look usefull.

    Will bear them in mind, also nice to see Win 7 still as an option

  5. Dave K Silver badge

    Sony always had dreadful support and this is a prime reason why I stopped buying their kit. Took them nearly a month to replace the motherboard in my sister's Vaio for example.

    Then at work we bought a Vaio for a member of staff. Battery died just after a year and we were quoted nearly £250 for a replacement. They charged £45 for a set of driver disks for it (and even then they were fresh from someone's CD burner), the thing was piled to the gills with crapware and took hours to clean up into a usable state.

    In fact, we had such a bad experience that we placed a block on buying any further Sony laptops - the only company that we had this with.

    Sony make some nice hardware, but fail dismally with software and support, and the whole package is important when you're shelling out £1,000 for a supposedly premium product.

    Bye bye Vaio, you won't be missed. Not by me anyway!

  6. The Cogito
    Thumb Up

    Still have my Vaio ....

    and its some 9 years old. Was the first laptop I ever purchased, admittiedly it lasts about 5mins on battery only, but works perfectly fine with Mint to rip and encode MKV's. Cant say the same for my Tosh, which imploded when the DC port stopped working completly to power or charge that was 3 years old.

  7. a_mu

    TV and DLNA

    A slight concern

    Sony TV's are notorious for their ability / lack of to interface to DLNA servers,

    Last I looked, Sony TV only approve the DLNA server supplied on their vaio computers,

    you have to purchase their computer to get the software,

    Wonder what they will approve as a server now ?

    1. c:\boot.ini

      Re: TV and DLNA

      Just like XBox, infact, xbox cannot even access a SAMBA share ... you need to have a windows media system ... I obviously have one in one locked room on the other side of my flat, but my hd's are next to the TV and xbox, full of vids (mostly) and ~ 200Gb of flacs, some mp3's etc ...

      Now, the fun thing is, the windows system is hooked up to my shares (wifi) and I can import the content into windows media neuter, with codecs and all that shit (I guess), leaving it on the share because the lappy does not have a big enough hd, and access the shit via media center ... but it is just stupid to have your data fly over your network multiple times ...

      Thank god I have a decent Linux media center in my bd drive that I "rent" from my ISP (included in the package)

      Back to the subject:

      You want a decent looking laptop? you now have one brand to choose from, Apple.

      No, no, no, no, no, no, Thinkpads are not nice, poorly designed (the looks part) look at a macbook pro ... HP are flogging shit that looks simlar, with cases in cheap plastic !@#$ They do not get it ... some people like nicely designed stuff, like designer sofas, tables chairs etc ... they have to look sleek, well built, durable, and can be priced anywhere.

      Like cars, a Ford or Fiat might have the same number of hp, seats, doors, you name it, it will certainly not look better than a German car, I am talking of course Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes (not Opel for obvious reasons, GM) - Germans put a lot of effort into making the car look esthetic ... you might not like the looks, I do not like BMW style, but I recognize the effort that has been put into the looks ... now, some people look for the same in computing and previously would get either Sony or Apple, period - now they are stuck with Apple.

      And sorry, in comparison, Thinkpads are the Fiat Multipla's.

      I am talking rich people, the kind that have Porsche and/or A8 cabrios in the garage for when the sun shines ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: TV and DLNA

        "Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes (not Opel for obvious reasons, GM) - Germans put a lot of effort into making the car look esthetic"

        Seriously? "esthetic"?

        VW just tweak the headlights of their last generation Golf and sell it as a new model.

        BMW and Mercedes have a photocopier set to S/M/L saloon car.

        German designs are some of the most conservative (small c) and boring in the industry.

        Compare a last-gen 3 series coupe and saloon to an Alfa Romeo Brera and 159.

        Compare an S class to a Jag XJ.

        VW, BMW, Mercedes etc. aesthetic-wise are the automotive equivalent of Thinkpads.

        Boring unchanging design, usually bought as corporate fleets.

        Ford, Vauxhall etc. are the automotive equivalent of Dells.

        I do agree, though, that someone needs to step up to the plate and offer an alternative to the cheap-plastic x86 laptops. Though most are probably keeping their best designs for tablets and ultra-expensive 'ultrabooks'.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TV and DLNA

          >VW, BMW, Mercedes etc. aesthetic-wise are the automotive equivalent of Thinkpads.

          Totally. They're not bulletproof, just like my Lenovo isn't. And the build quality, while still good, isn't as good as it used to be. A bit like Thinkpads.

          I've owned a couple of mk1 TTs and they're still nice looking cars. They get slagged off for being nice looking cars (and being built on one of the worse Golf chassis). The best looking cars, sport cars and super cars excepted, are probably the Alfas and some of the French brands. The Alfas especially are stunning looking cars. I've always been too frightened to buy one though.

          Apples are very nice looking laptops and are compact to boot. But when compared to the competition it's like paying £100,000 for a Golf.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: TV and DLNA

        Don't knock Opel (Russelheim) they used to make good cars a decade ago.

        And they still look nice today apart from the huge dent in the side. Look nicer than the equivalent Audis and BMWs

    2. Joseph Lord

      Re: TV and DLNA

      Don't know if it "approved" but my TV KDL-24EXx20 works fine with MythTV and so do a few other servers I have used. I think it is only wanting to "approve" things that they can test and ensure won't be broken by someone else's updates.

      There is nothing deliberately crippled it is just cautiousness about making claims that can't be fulfilled.

      Ex Sony TV Product Planner.

    3. Quinnicus

      Re: TV and DLNA

      Incorrect.

      Have a look at Homestream (built on the Serviio Platform)

      http://community.sony.co.uk/t5/Blog-News-from-Sony/Homestream-Media-Sharing-from-Sony/ba-p/1262890

  8. Mark Major

    I love my VAIO

    The laptop is five years old and used daily - including heavy duty stuff like HD video editing.

    It was £1500 with dual SSDs in a RAID, a 1600x900 screen and internal 3G. It was definitely worth the £1 per day of use I've had from it so far and I would have bought another without hesitation.

    The screen just broke in the past month (it now has lines down the middle) , but am still using it with a separate monitor. The only real thing that bugged me was that I could not upgrade the Nvidia graphics drivers as Sony stopped releasing updates for the switchable Intel/Nvidia graphics.

    The cheap VAIO my wife purchased though (circa. £500) - well that is rubbish!

  9. Dennis 6

    Sony were always to be avoided

    When I managed IT we had a consultant who repaired computers. He told me that Sony do not supply spare parts. He had a customer with a Sony laptop with a defective keyboard, and discovered that Sony would not supply a keyboard. Normally, for a customer with a keyboard problem, this consultant would buy the keyboard, collect the laptop late afternoon and return it the following morning. Job done. In the case of the customer with the Sony the customer had to send the computer back to Sony. The computer was away for three weeks and when it was returned it was clear from the labels that it had been to Belgium and back. None of the customer's data was still on the machine as the hard disk had been reformatted.

    I subsequently I had a friend with a Sony laptop with a broken keyboard. The letter 'F' come off. I told her this story, But she had a "man" who she called when she had a computer problem. He said he couldn't buy a replacement keyboard and he looked on eBay, and found one with the missing 'F' key! No help there. She subsequently made do with a PS2 plug-in keyboard.

    I think that a company that cannot build a keyboard has no business making computers. Getting shot of their PC division is a wise move and will make the world a better place.

  10. Mikel

    Another PC maker begs off.

    Surely this means the Windows PC is still in rude health.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sony single digit market vs Microsofts

    so Sony having only a few percentage points of market share is a good reason for them to dump the sector yet here we keep seeing Microsoft get press coverage for it's Windows Phone phones and Windows Tablet tablets with just about the same market share. And do you think Sony has been dumping hundreds and hundreds of million of dollars into marketing? Hell no, they know when it's time to leave a segment and move on. Microsoft, not so much.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on, Sony! Get back to your core business!

    Walkmans ...right?

  13. Levente Szileszky

    Too bad...

    ...I loved the options VAIO offered eg hybrid graphics several years ago, very lightweight yet sturdy carbon casing etc. They were a bit heavy on bloatware but that's not much of an issue to fix. As far as support goes they were nice but often didn't follow up - my wife's current VAIO is still waiting for a new DVD drive, I had the yellow repair paper in hand LAST JULY and still not a word from Sony Support... warranty expired by the end of last SUmmer so I'm curious if they will ever respond to me? I'll wait exactly one year then go back to the main store in the Sony Tower in Midtown Manhattan, asking about my replacement drive... :)

  14. DF118

    Cameras

    As an old Minolta fan of yore, I really hope Sony don't screw the imaging biz. Many of us were worried what might happen to the Minolta legacy should Sony run into financial difficulties, and it looks like over the next few years we may be about to find out. At the moment however it does seem to be an area in which they're excelling, on both innovation and profitability.

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