The stagnant smartphone market is compelling Sony to sell off portions of its once-groundbreaking battery business to Murata, the two companies announced on Thursday.
The two companies are aiming to reach a binding, definitive agreement by October and to complete the transfer by the end of next March.
Sony released the first commercially available lithium ion battery in 1991, and "until now, Sony has continued to pursue the development and business launch of various advanced battery products, primarily as key components for electronics products," the release said. "Recently, Sony has focused on enhancing the profitability of its lithium-ion polymer battery business for smartphones, an area where the competitive environment is significantly changing."
The scope of the transfer remains to be finalized, but it's expected to include the battery business conducted by Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Sony's battery-related manufacturing operations in China and Singapore, and assets and personnel assigned to the battery business at the Sony Group's sales and R&D sites.
The deal is not expected to include business operations related to consumer sales of Sony-branded USB batteries, alkaline batteries, button and coin batteries, or mobile projectors.
Murata, for its part, said it is looking to "enhance its competitive edge in the communications market."
As it winds down its battery business, Sony is looking to revive another part of its business where it was once a pioneer: artificial intelligence. In May, the company -- which launched the robotic dog AIBO in 1999 -- announced it is investing in the the California-based AI startup Cogitai.
It's all part of a major restructuring effort under way at Sony, which includes investments in IoT chip technology and the development of new wearable devices. Earlier this year the company also offloaded the Sony Creative Software (SCS) product range.