2015 was a terrible year for Japanese computer giant Toshiba. The company’s CEO and high-ranking executives were found to have breached their contracts and falsified earnings, reporting that the company’s sales were growing each year, and artificially inflating the company’s value as a result to attract more investors. Following the revelations, the company’s shareholders threw out most of the top-level management in an effort to save it, but it was too late. The Japanese government began investigations into the matter shortly afterwards, and Toshiba’s new management began mass layoffs in the TV and home electronics divisions amounting to over 7000 employees, trying to survive massive expected losses in annual revenue as sales took a nosedive.
Toshiba is taking more steps this year to divest themselves from the markets it had a hand in that aren’t making it any money, in a final attempt to right the ship and stay afloat in their home turf. The TV division has been shut down, and the company’s ongoing projects in other departments are likely to be halted. Toshiba’s Home electronics brand will be sold to Chinese manufacturer Midea, and the company’s medical equipment division will be shut down and sold to camera giant Canon, a confusing move because the medical division was the only one pulling in a profit and growing steadily.
Toshiba will also exit the computer retail business, according to rumors that tie in with the company’s announcement that its US-based offices won’t be taking any more orders for laptops or desktop computers. There are apparently plans to also shut down offices overseas in regions such as the United States, Europe, and Latin America. These offices, the rumors claim, will close on 31 March 2016, and it is not clear if Toshiba will help these employees find other positions within the company, or let them go completely. In the US, Toshiba’s partner in retail, CDW, has taken over all online orders made through the company’s official website.
To stay relevant in the computer market, Toshiba’s laptop division is rumored to also undergo further restructuring this year, and will later merge with the VAIO and Fujitsu brands to create a super-brand for Japanese-made laptops. It’s anyone’s guess as to how that partnership will take off, but if the rumors are true, I do hope that it is successful. Toshiba has been responsible for several excellent Ultrabook designs in the past, and it would be a shame to lose all this expertise and skill.
Note that this doesn’t mean that other parts of the company will see the same effects or restructuring efforts. Toshiba’s NAND production is still in full swing, they’re still strong in the enterprise SSD and server markets, and they still make hard drives by the tons. Toshiba is a giant of a company, and it’ll take more than one financial scandal to bring it to its knees.