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Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio may be about to merge laptop operations




From Taiwan, an advance on a tantalizing rumor: Toshiba, Fujitsu and Vaio look to be seriously considering a merger of their laptop-making operations.

Vaio, the laptop spin-off from Sony, publicly floated the idea in late 2015. At that time it was thought that Toshiba would probably like the idea, as relieving itself of its laptop division in a declining market would mean one less thing to worry about as it wrestles with its accounting scandal. Fujitsu's LifeBook products are well-regarded, but are not big sellers globally.

Now Taiwan's Digitimes says news of the merger is causing nervousness among the nation's manufacturers, who fear consolidation of contracts if the three do pursue a deal.

The rumour is hard to dismiss, as PC sales are falling fast and none of the three companies make it into the world's top half-dozen vendors, meaning they're selling fewer than 20 million units a year.

Even if the three are doing well in Japan, that market's not in great shape: analyst firm IDC's assessment is that “a weaker Yen, high inventory, and lack of Windows 10 marketing continued to constrain PC sales” in 2015.

Consolidation into a combined brand could help to defend the Japanese market and make it easier to compete abroad. It's even possible that the three brands could survive, with Vaio in consumer-land, Fujitsu concentrating on the business sales its global services business brings and Toshiba straddling both markets as it already does today.

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