Flashback to 2005: the Sony Vaio was a fashionable, hip, high-tech laptop. It’s hard to believe now, but about a decade ago, the Vaio commanded respect and status comparable to the Macbook. The laptop remains popular in its homeland of Japan, and, apparently, in whatever universe it is where dozens of Hollywood movies and television shows take place, given the aggressive product placement seen in entertainment, but sales have been lagging for years in the US and in our section of the multiverse.
The news that Sony would be dumping PC production came suddenly, but it was hardly surprising. An electronics manufacturer throwing in the towel isn’t a common sight these days. Most tech companies would sooner push a bad product until they go bankrupt than call it a day and admit that this is just something that the competition does better.
The tech giant will be putting more focus towards its television products, which are also ailing. It would be premature to say that Sony is suffering major losses, that the company is in any real danger. Few corporations command anything like Sony’s revenue from gadgets and entertainment. The impact of the loss of the Vaio will be felt in tech circles and among other laptop manufacturers more so than at Sony.
Someone Will Fill the Niche
Although the Vaio might not have been a very big niche, it did fill a niche. Namely, the Vaio appealed to multimedia types who were perhaps not all that tech-savvy, and didn’t care to be, they simply wanted a powerful laptop on which to record music, edit video, etc. The laptop and desktop combined did sell over seven million units in 2013. That may not be strong enough to keep Sony interested, but for a smaller company, one that doesn’t need to dominate a market in order to stay in the green, that would be an Earth-shattering success.
Used Vaios Will Probably Go Cheap
One might expect the Vaio to become a collector’s item, but the computers, phones and gadgets that wind up being sought after on eBay typically command more affection than the sleek, glossy Vaio. The Commodore 64, with its clunky design and psychedelic colors, was a major part of many a young geek’s childhood. Outdated Nokias and flip phones are fun little toys with a lo-fi charm you can’t get from modern technology. The Vaio’s demographic was young adult professionals who wanted a cool laptop that set them apart from Apple users. A high-end, fashionable laptop that just got dumped by its manufacturer will probably not generate nostalgia, just a vaguely “unhip” feeling. The standard joke would be writers who do their best work in coffee shops, where everyone can see them, well, a Vaio won’t look very cool at the coffee shop next year.
Apple May See a Spike in Sales
Whether or not Apple fills the void left by Vaio, at least some Vaio fans are going to be switching to Apple. The Macbook Air is probably looking very attractive right now to Vaio users who don’t have a new model to look forward to any time soon.
A number of Vaio users are gamers, and Alienware is another highly-visible manufacturer of powerful, all-in-one PCs and desktops. It wouldn’t be very surprising to see the company witnessing a spike in sales.
“The electronics we buy today are not just a matter of necessity, of need. For many, it’s a matter of fashion, taste and social status.” According to Jason Hope, “Sony dumping the Vaio is not just a matter of a brand dropping a flagship product, it’s also a matter of identity for many users.”
With the Playstation 4 on its way and new horizons in televisions, smartphones and assorted gadgetry, Sony is in no hurry to try and bail the sinking ship that has been the Vaio. Where Vaio fans will go from here when they need a new laptop or PC is anyone’s guess. Some have predicted that the laptop and PC may be things of the past in another decade or so. In the meantime, it is fascinating to watch the landscape of the market change so dramatically in the last few years alone.
About the author
Amy Taylor is a technology and business writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, Arizona. She has taken that knowledge and experience and brought that to her unique writing capabilities. She really enjoys new business related issues that are tied directly to technology.