Toshiba, one of the pioneers in the portable computer space, has quietly exited the PC industry after transferring its remaining minority 19.9% stake in its PC business to Sharp. Upon its initial purchase of the division, Sharp renamed it to Dynabook.
This follows Toshiba’s sale of 80.1% stake of its PC business to Sharp two years ago for USD36 million. Sharp actually had exercised its right to buy the remaining 19.1% of the shares back in June but it was only recently that Toshiba released a statement on the completion of the deal.
As a result of this transfer, it will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sharp, said Toshiba in a statement. Interestingly, Sharp exited the PC market in 2010 and this latest acquisition will offer it a way back in. The Osaka-based electronics maker will be able to use the scale of parent Foxconn (which owns 66% of the company), the world’s biggest contract manufacturer, to produce PCs more cheaply – just as it has done with TVs.
Toshiba departure from the PC market follows another major Japanese brand, Sony’s exit in 2014 in which sold off its laptop division to JIP (Japan Industrial Partners).
Toshiba made its first PC laptop back in 1985 with the T1100 which was considered one of the first mainstream laptop computers. It boasted internal rechargeable batteries, the ability to read 3.5″ floppy disks and 256K of memory. The design of the T1100 served as a template for many portable computers of its age.
Between the 1990s and 2000s, Toshiba was among the top PC manufacturers of the day. Among its top models were the Satellite, Portégé and Qosmio lines. However, Toshiba’s laptop waned in popularity with the arrival of more players in the laptop market.
It also didn’t help that Toshiba made a bet on the failed media format HD DVD back in 2007, where it produced a host of media-centric laptops that were rendered obsolete when Blu-ray emerged as the victor.
According to Reuters, by the time Toshiba sold its PC business to Sharp, its market share had dwindled from its peak of 17.7 million PCs sold in 2011 to just 1.4 million in 2017.