Talks to Merge Toshiba, Vaio, Fujitsu PC Units May Be Falling Apart
Vaio reportedly left the negotiations, while Toshiba and Fujitsu officials disagree on which vendor will hold a majority stake in a new company.In February, Japanese system makers Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio reportedly were a month away from announcing a joint venture that would combine their respective PC units into a single business that they hoped would be able to better compete with Lenovo, HP Inc., Dell and other top OEMs. In March, reports surfaced that the deal would come later, probably around June. Now The Wall Street Journal is reporting that negotiations around merging the PC units are on the verge of collapse, with Japan Industrial Partners—which has a controlling interest in Vaio—walking away from the talks and the remaining two vendors unable to agree which company would assume a majority of the joint venture. A breakdown in negotiations would leave the three system makers in the same position they've been in for years, essentially falling further behind in an already difficult global PC market in which Japanese companies once had a very strong position. The hope was that a new vendor that combined the PC businesses of the three companies would not only be a more significant player in the global market, but also would enable Toshiba, Vaio and Fujitsu to save money in everything from R&D to supply chains to production. The PC market already is difficult enough. Since late 2012, shipments of PCs worldwide have declined sharply due in large part to the rising popularity of other devices, in particular smartphones and tablets. In addition, the strong dollar—and resulting higher prices—and the lack of compelling new products have kept consumers and business users from buying new PCs. OEMs also have been victims of their own success: PC users are finding that the systems they bought three to five years ago are still sufficient for their needs.
According to analysts with IDC and Gartner, PC shipments worldwide fell between 9.6 percent and 11.3 percent in 2015 over the previous year, and they don't see things improving until later this year and into 2017. The top vendors—Lenovo, HP and Dell—saw declines in shipments during the year, while Apple and Asus either also had declines or showed slight growth.