5 Signs Of A PC Exodus

Exit Plans?
As the PC market continues to slump, with prices and margins plummeting, speculation that more computer manufacturers will minimize or sell off their PC businesses continues to mount. Here are five signs that the PC industry is headed for a mass exodus.

Sony's Sell Off

Following persistent rumors and reports that it was leaving the PC business, Sony last week made it official. The company last Thursday announced plans to sell its struggling Vaio PC business to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). While the agreement is merely memorandum of understanding (negotiations for price and terms have yet to be determined), Sony said it expects the agreement to be finalized by the end of March. Despite its brand name and strong consumer electronics presence, Sony failed to make much of an impact in the PC market and was lagging far behind fellow Japanese tech giant Toshiba, not to mention larger market leaders like Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo.

LG Leaving?

Shortly before the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, The Korea Times reported that LG Electronics was considering scaling down or withdrawing completely from the PC business. According to the report, which cited unnamed LG executives, the company planned to focus on tablets, smartphones and hybrid devices instead of desktops and notebooks. LG hasn't withdrawn yet, and the company did introduce a new Google Chrome desktop, dubbed the Chromebase, at CES. But with scant global market share, it may be a question of when and not if LG leaves the PC business.

Asus' Smartphone Shift

Following its third-quarter earnings announcement in November, Asus declared it would concentrate on smartphones in 2014 with plans to grow its phone sales from 1 million units in 2013 to 5 million units this year. While Asus' PC sales only fell 3 percent year-over-year, the company said smartphones will be a priority over desktops and notebooks. "We remain optimistic about the desktop and laptop market, but our priority is to make the company’s smartphone business turn a profit next year," Asus CFO David Chang said during the November earnings call. While Asus is still a top-five PC maker, according to Gartner's worldwide market share survey, the company has gained more attention lately with its tablets such as the Transformer Pad, VivoTab and Google Nexus 7.

Acer's Executive Shakeup

Acer, the No. 4 computer maker according to Gartner's 2013 worldwide market share survey, has been dogged by management shakeups in recent months over the company's steep decline in PC sales. First, Acer CEO J.T. Wang stepped down in November after poor third-quarter earnings in which Acer reported a $446 million loss and announced a 7 percent workforce reduction. And that was after the company reported a 33 percent PC revenue drop in June. During the third-quarter announcement, Acer said it will conduct a "comprehensive restructuring and transformation" of the business. Acer named Jim Wong as its new CEO, but two weeks later he abruptly resigned, and Acer founder Stan Shih (pictured) returned to take over the company as chairman and president. Last month, Acer named former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company executive Jason Chen as its new full-time CEO.

Samsung Dumping Desktops?

Samsung has emerged in recent years as a mobile device giant, thanks to its Galaxy line of Android smartphones and tablets. But the company also has a sizeable PC presence with its Series 9 Ultrabooks, ATIV notebooks and ATIV all-in-one (AiO) desktops. But according to a Korea Times report last summer, which cited anonymous Samsung executives, the company decided to dump its desktop business completely and focus purely on mobile computing. Samsung quickly issued a statement denying the report, and last month at CES 2014 the company did introduce a new ATIV AiO desktop model. But given how small Samsung's desktop presence is, it wouldn't be a surprise if the company eventually departs the desktop market.