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Vaio laptops make a comeback in Middle East

(Image credit: Future)

Vaio fans in the UAE rejoice! The Japanese laptop from Vaio Corporation is back in the Gulf but without the Sony logo.

Sony sold its PC business to investment firm Japan Industrial Partners in February 2014 as part of a restructuring effort to focus on smartphones.

Sony still has a 5% stake and holds the intellectual property rights for the Vaio brand and logo.

Vaio laptops are currently sold in 22 countries, including the US, Japan, Brazil and some Asian and European countries and the brand is expanding into newer markets.

After unveiling the laptops in the UAE, Alex Chung, CEO and Co-founder of Hong Kong-based tech start-up Nexstgo Company Limited, a subsidiary of OEM manufacturer Alco Holdings, told TechRadar Middle East, the brand has been in discussions with the partners in the Middle East for the last one year to bring the laptops to the market.

Nexstgo is the licensing partner for Vaio in Asia, which also includes the Middle East, and Jumbo Electronics is the distributor for the UAE.

“We have selected a strategic country – UAE – to launch the premium products. We wanted to ensure that Vaio still meets the quality and the brand image. All the premium products we launch in the UAE are fashion models in Japan. At the same time, we wanted to bring the latest products to the Middle East,” Chung said.

In the beginning, he said that Vaio will bring high-end products to the region and the mass models at a later stage.

Building brand image

A12, SX12, SE14 and SX14 models will be available by the end of October in the UAE first, followed by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

When asked how Vaio is going to compete with other brands when the overall market is in cut-throat competition and weak, he said that Vaio has a lot of fans globally and “I have seen people using Vaio products in the UAE”.

In Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said that Vaio has a double-digit market share in the premium segment.

“We intend to showcase the Vaio brand and build the brand rather than acquiring the market share after the comeback,” he said.

Fouad R. Charakla, senior research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC), said that the full-year PC market in the UAE is expected to decline by 9.3% to 1.2m in 2019 compared to 1.3m in 2018 due to weak consumer confidence.

“Considering that the starting price of Vaio’s notebook range will be at AED 4,400, it is unlikely to cater to the mainstream of end-users, since majority of the volume of notebooks sold in the UAE falls below the AED 4,000 price band,” he said.

According to research firm Gartner, the global PC shipments will decline this year to 256m compared to 260m last year. It will further decline to 250m in 2020 and 246m in 2021.

Since departing from Sony, Kaoru Hayashi, director and head of PC business unit at Vaio Corporation, said that Vaio is concentrating in the domestic market of Japan.

“Our overseas PC partners have retreated from the market. About 70% of our business comes from business-to-business and the rest from consumers. Instead of going alone in each market, we have tied up with partners and some of the local OEMs to promote our brand and sales. In the US, Vaio is doing its own business,” he said.

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