In April, it became clear that the PC division of Toshiba (Toshiba Client Solutions) will change its name to Dynabook. The name change follows a turbulent period at Toshiba; all the more reason to take a look at the Dynabook Difference event. This is where the division first presented its new name. What is the reason for the name change, and what does the future hold for Toshiba’s PC division?
Toshiba has been in quite some trouble lately. After a failed nuclear adventure with Westinghouse, people feared that it would lose its listing, or even go bankrupt. This was followed by the sale of the company’s chip division. In the meantime, the PC division of the Japanese tech giant has also been sold off for the most part. Sharp has taken over 80 percent of the shares of the PC division. It was not yet entirely clear how this takeover would affect the practical situation, but at least change is going to come. The company recently announced that Toshiba Client Solutions is changing its name. From now on the brand name will be known as Dynabook, which has already been the case in Japan for decades.
Dynabook: well known in Japan
At Dynabook Difference, there was a strong emphasis on the historical value of this brand name. According to the company, the fact that Dynabook has been part of the established order in Japan means that the company continues to do what it can do well. Toshiba’s historical contributions to the PC and laptop market were put in the spotlight. For example, an arrangement of historical laptop models was dug up for an exhibition. These models varied from the T1100 to the new Dynabooks, but the emphasis was on the older models. By continuing to do what made Toshiba big, however, the company has lost its position on the PC market. So, the exhibition was a nice look at the history of the company, but because of the emphasis on continuity you just lose sight of the upcoming changes. These changes are exactly what is interesting about this transition.
A wave of innovation
Ronald Ravel, country manager Benelux at Dynabook, has announced that a large number of changes are in the pipeline. The name change is the signal for a general offensive on the business market. Dynabook wants to get a foot in the door there again. In recent years, Toshiba’s PC division has been more or less overrun by the company’s other activities. Ravel is satisfied with the new plans: “We have really ended up in a niche, but this name change could lead to a new footprint on the business market. There will be new investments, we will have the opportunity to hire more people and [the name change] will be accompanied by a new strategy.” Next to Dell, HP and Lenovo, Dynabook wants to become a significant player in the enterprise market. More money and more people, but what does it mean for the products?
It is striking that the new products presented at Dynabook Difference have a familiar, solid Toshiba appearance. Even the blue Accupoint on laptops is still present. This is a legacy feature that, of course, mostly exists out of nostalgia. The robustness of the devices was also pointed out by the honeycomb structure of the housing. This allows the laptops to survive up to 200 kilos in pressure. At the same time, the laptops were designed according to the ultra-thin & light philosophy. Moreover, a unique BIOS has been developed that is the same for all business models, so that only one software image needs to be used for all users of Dynabooks within one organization. In short, Dynabooks are built to last as long as possible and weigh as little as possible. For companies, ease of use is paramount. All this is not very surprising, so where can we find some innovative products? The answer is that these are stil in development.
Clear influence of Sharp
Sharp’s involvement in the new Dynabook laptops is appreciated at the event, but only briefly mentioned. Where Sharp’s influence mostly can be seen is the presentation of 8K displays and all-in-one PCs. These will become available in the future. According to Dynabook, these new devices can count on interest from e.g. the healthcare sector. Extremely detailed images are useful for medical scans and echoes, for example. Dynabook assumes that the content and connections for these resolutions will soon reach the required level in the coming years. The all-in-one PCs will have modular features that ensure that only a few parts need to be replaced after a certain period of time. Think, for example, of graphics cards, when it comes to visual design for concept art or video rendering.
Dynabook or ‘the former Toshiba’?
The intention behind the transition from Toshiba to Dynabook is certainly clear. The small player that Toshiba has become has to achieve growth again under the Dynabook brand name, to seriously participate in the enterprise PC market. On the other hand, the emphasis is placed on the fact that Dynabook doesn’t lose sight of its history, as Dynabook is already an established name in Japan. On the one hand, with Sharp’s display technology, Dynabook can play a role in sectors such as visual design and healthcare. On the other hand, it could also turn out that people simply think “Oh, those guys who used to be Toshiba…” if Dynabook clings too much the history of Toshiba. The future will have to show whether the transition will have the intended effect.