What Happened To Toshiba Laptop Business?
Toshiba was once a giant in personal computers. Toshiba is still around today, with sale figure of $31 billion annually, however today, they are officially out of the laptop business. How did a company that invented world’s first mass-market laptop computer in 1985 the T1100, had to sell their laptop business.
Toshiba was founded in 1939, by the union of Tokyo Denki and the Shibaura Seisaku-sho. In the 1980s computers started to storm homes for the first time. Millions were discovering the power of a computer. This was a time to revolutionize data storage among people other than scientists and big organizations; computers started making their way into school workplaces, offices. Ads ran on TV and in the newspaper, encouraging parents to buy computers for their children to help give them, a good start in life. And with that, a 4 kg machine was introduced by Toshiba, the T1100.
Over the coming years they introduced, T3100, T1200, and many more. They managed to gain a foothold in the Asian market. The growth of Toshiba led it to become one of the leading manufacturers in the technology sector. The constant innovations gave them a place of honor among the greats of this industry.
And then came the 1990s, the coming decade would be a tough time in Japan, also known as the lost decade. The Lost Decade started in 1991 and went on till 2001. The economic slowdown was due to the rising interest rates that set a liquidity trap at the same time that a credit crunch was unfolding. The move led to a stock market crash and debt crisis, as borrowers failed to make payments on many debts that were backed by speculative assets. Investors simply did not want to invest anymore.
However, regardless of this downfall, Toshiba continued advancing its technology, implementing the first disks for storage with perpendicular recording with a capacity of 80 GB. They truly did become the leading brand in computers with the release of its notebook Libretto in 1996. Toshiba’s success in this segment of the laptop business influenced its commitment to mobility, which not only covered portable devices, but also tablet PCs.
The Lost Decade however, did leave a mark on Toshiba. The design template for portables set by the T1100 was challenged by Apple’s PowerBook. In the meanwhile, there was much more competition entering the market, such as Dell and Lenovo. Toshiba was not able to recover and suffered delays in investments and technological research, causing future plans to be paralyzed by the lack of financing, and they oriented their efforts towards the production of flash memories.
At the beginning of the new century, things did not improve for Toshiba, and it was not possible for it to maintain its dominance in the laptop business. Profits fell to alarming levels, to the point that the company had to take the invention of memory semiconductors out of the market.
Toshiba’s laptops waned in popularity. By 2016, they were looking for a $2.5 billion line of credit to keep afloat. As this news got out, the company’s shares fell more than 40%. Toshiba’s share of the PC market dwindled from its 2011 peak of 17.7 million PCs sold to about 1.4 million in 2017. And in 2018 Toshiba was forced to sell several of its overseas factories, including Toshiba Client Solutions, of which 80% of the shares were traded by Sharp Corporation for $36 million, this way Toshiba would have no choice but to leave out the laptop business.
But that’s exactly what it is, they were out of the “laptop business” Toshiba continues to be a strong global competitor by working on infrastructures, digital products, and home appliances. With their products still in the market, they are hitting sales figures of $30 billion annually. One failed endeavor does not mean you are gone for good.