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Sony to dump optical drive division by March

Sony is quitting the optical disc drive business by next March, according to Japan's Asahi Shimbun.

The site has reported that the company's Optiarc division, which produces CD and DVD drives for PCs, will shut down within seven months, as part of Sony's restructuring process.

Sony is looking to cut its global work force by 10,000 people by March, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Tokyo-based Optiarc Inc. carries a 10 to 15 per cent share of the global market in the business, touting tens of billions of yen in annual sales, according to Asahi. Founded in 2006 as a joint venture with NEC Corp, the business became a wholly subsidised Sony product two years later, but has struggled. The company blames a shrinking PC market and price competitions with overseas rivals, Asahi said.

In an effort to regain its lost footing, which was aided earlier this month by a disappointing fiscal quarter, Sony is expected to lay off most of its 400 employees in Asia and abroad through an early retirement program, Asahi reported.

Last week, the electronics giant announced that it will close its Sony Mobile Sweden office, and move operations to Tokyo, closer to the company's global headquarters. That will mean the reduction of the mobile unit's global employees by about 15 per cent, leaving 1,000 people jobless.

"We are accelerating the integration and convergence with the wider Sony group to continue enhancing our offerings, and a more focused and efficient operational structure will help to reduce Sony Mobile's costs, enhance time to market efficiency and bring the business back to a place of strength," Sony Mobile CEO Kunimasa Suzuki said last week.

The company's upcoming withdrawal from building optical disc drives is one of the final steps towards bolstering the business.

Last quarter, Sony watched its profit drop 77 per cent year over year, landing it at an $80 million (£50 million) profit between April and June. The company blamed a weak economy and strong yen, as well as declining game console sales, for the drop.

While turning its back on the floundering optical drive business, Sony instead plans on revitalising its electronics division by turning up the heat on its TV sales, as well as putting more emphasis on technologies including image sensors, signal processors, and lenses, all of which helped contribute to Sony's recent profits, the company said during its last earnings call.

Earlier this month, there were reports that next-generation models of Apple's iMac and Mac Pro could, for the first time in almost two decades, ship without a built-in optical drive.