Wanted: buyer for Mitsubishi PC plant

One careless owner, going cheap

Mitsubishi is hawking its Japanese notebook PC production plant to rival vendors, according to a Taiwanese trade magazine. The company is likely to retain its PC design team but will contract out manufacturing - probably to a Taiwanese or Japanese competitor, Eurotrade reports. Mitsubishi PC unit shipments in the year to March 1999 were 30,000 units, compared with a target of 100,000 units, according to Eurotrade. Presumably, the numbers apply just for notebooks, for if desktops and servers are included, Mitsubishi's PC performance would then be truly catastrophic. How long can the Japanese giant remain in the PC business? In March, the company ended its involvement in Europe, by announcing the closure of the company's UK Apricot subsidiary with the loss of 400 jobs. Just two months earlier, Mitsubishi shut down its PC sales operations in Germany, the only other European country, where it registered a presence. So that leaves Japan, where -- you would imagine -- Mitsubishi commands a useful presence. But still the company can't meet fairly modest sales targets. The numbers don't stack up on the sales side, and that translates into under-used factories. So why then, does Mitsubishi, now a strictly local PC player, want to retain expensive, in-house R&D? Call it pride, stubbornness or even optimism, Mitsubishi's decision to stay in the PC business looks misplaced. ®:

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