updated 06:25 pm EDT, Thu April 15, 2010
Sony VAIO PCs will get outsourced models
Sony will stop designing all of its VAIO PCs itself, the company's business deputy president Ryosuke Akahane revealed in an interview today. The Japanese PC house will split its line into two tiers, with a top tier being its usual self-designed computers and a new, second tier being designed by a contractor that would simply attach the VAIO name to the design. They would include Sony-specific features like a help button, PCPro was told, but would have Sony only approve the design rather than shape it from the outset.
The Japanese executive insisted that they would be of the same quality but admitted that the newest technology would always go to the first tier, with the outside contractors getting many parts second-hand.
Sony's strategy would be aimed at beating market share leader HP but also Apple, Akahane said. It would help get more products on shelves than Apple's relatively small product range and would be important for a new attempt at synergy in Sony's lineup, where a VAIO PC could sync its behavior with a PS3 or a Sony Ericsson phone. An eventual adaptation of the PlayStation Network could see video bookmarking, where progress made watching a video on one device would be mirrored on another.
The company has long made allusions to a unified media service that would go beyond the PS3 but hasn't said when it would actually become active.
Apple has in recent years had consistently outperformed Sony in the computer market, particularly in the US where the Mac brand is strongest. Both companies aim at the same premium demographic, but Apple's quality reputation along with a more prominent retail network and marketing have sometimes given it an edge. The Sony strategy would stand in direct opposition to Apple's as it would attempt to expand the range with cheaper PCs where Apple has usually resisted price hikes and adding new models.