If you like your current Toshiba laptop, I have some bad news: you might not be able to buy a new one. As of August 2020, the company is no longer producing any laptops under its own brand name. Toshiba first made laptops in 1985, but its manufacturing business has been wholly sold to Sharp, making them under the “Dynabook” brand name.
Sharp acquired four fifths of Toshiba’s laptop manufacturing arm in 2018 for $36 million, a pittance for a once-considerable slice of the laptop market. (For comparison, Facebook bought Instagram for about twenty times that.) It exercised the option to buy the rest earlier this year, and now the terms are final. Toshiba’s laptop business is no more.
The how and why of it barely requires explanation: competition from increasingly powerful mobile devices and consolidation of existing PC brands create pressure from both sides of the market. This concentrates buying into established giants, like Acer, Lenovo, and Dell, and pushes smaller players out. Toshiba was a major slice of the PC market a couple of decades ago, but uninspiring hardware and un-competitive pricing forced it into the margins. It seems to be happening a lot to Japanese brands as of late: Sony sold its VAIO laptop line in 2014, and Olympus bowed out of the digital camera business earlier this year.
Toshiba remains a considerable player in the world of retail TVs and other home theater equipment, as well as a few PC components like hard drives. But the bulk of Toshiba’s business is now focused on industrial electronics being sold to other companies in bulk.