We must grow digital imaging business, says Sony’s new president


posted Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 3:05 PM EDT

Sony's logo. Click here to visit the Sony website!Sony Corp. has today announced several management changes at its highest levels, as it braces itself for a fourth straight year of losses.

The  company last turned a net profit in 2008, and has been struggling with several of its core businesses in recent years, as detailed by C|Net News. Sony's once-dominant Playstation games console brand has had a difficult few years of very public security breaches, coupled with stiff competion from Nintendo and Microsoft. In the mobile business, the company's partnership with Ericsson has been challenged by strong offerings from smartphone rivals including Apple, a fact acknowledged recently when Sony bought out Ericsson's share in the venture. It's the TV business in particular that has been a source of trouble for Sony of late, though, and it's in this area alone that it is predicted to lose as much as 175 billion yen this year, according to Bloomberg.

Today, the company announced that its current chairman, CEO and president, Howard Stringer, will step down from the latter two roles as of April 1st, 2012. Stringer--who took Sony's helm in mid-2005--will remain as chairman for a further two months. After that, he will still have a role in the company, although he won't be directly involved in day-to-day management. as noted by Reuters. From June, he will replace Sony's current chairman of the board, Yotaro Kobayashi, who will be retiring.

Stringer will be replaced in the CEO and president roles by Kazuo Hirai, who is currently president of the Consumer Products & Services Group, and has also served as representative corporate executive officer and executive deputy president since last April. Hirai will be Sony's youngest ever CEO, and rose through the ranks at Sony Music, before switching to Sony Computer Entertainment shortly before the launch of the legendary Playstation brand.

In a positive note for fans of the company's cameras, Hirai singles out digital imaging as one of several areas he sees as key to the company's future. Sony's digital imaging business is among the divisions Hirai currently overseas as CPSG president. Quoted in the company's press release announcing the management changes, Hirai commented:

"The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains."

Press Release

Sony names Kazuo Hirai as President and CEO; Sir Howard Stringer to become Chairman of the Board of Directors

TOKYO, Japan - Sony Corporation (“Sony”) today announced that Kazuo Hirai has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2012. Sir Howard Stringer, currently Chairman, CEO and President, will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in June, 2012.

Mr. Stringer recommended to the Sony Board of Directors that Mr. Hirai, currently Executive Deputy President, be his successor as President and CEO. Mr. Stringer will continue as Chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the Board Chairmanship, which will become effective upon Board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current Chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the Board at the June shareholders meeting.

Comment from Sir Howard Stringer
“Three years ago, I started to work with the Board on succession plans, and in February, 2009 we named a new generation of leaders to be my management team. Among them was Kaz Hirai, who had distinguished himself through his work in the PlayStation® and networked entertainment businesses. Kaz is a globally focused executive for whom technology and the cloud are familiar territory, content is highly valued, and digital transformation is second nature. I believe his tough-mindedness and leadership skills will be of great benefit to the company and its customers in the months and years ahead. I look forward to helping Kaz in every way I can so that succession leads inevitably to success. It was my honor to recommend him to the Board for the positions of President and CEO, because he is ready to lead, and the time to make this change is now.”

Comment from Kazuo Hirai
“As challenging as times are for Sony now, were it not for the strong leadership of Sir Howard Stringer these past seven years, we would have been in a much more difficult position. I am grateful to Sir Howard and to the Board for their confidence in me, and I look forward to working with everyone at Sony more closely than ever before to build a strong future for our customers, shareholders, partners and employees. The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains. The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony’s diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in new and exciting ways.”

Comment from Yotaro Kobayashi, Chairman of the Board
“The Board is grateful to Sir Howard Stringer for all he has done to help Sony travel such a long and vital way down the road from an analogue to a digital company. He has clearly recognized the importance of connecting our tremendous products with networks and content so that our devices come fully alive in the hands of consumers. We agree with Sir Howard that Kazuo Hirai is the right man at the right time to lead Sony. He has a unique capacity to inspire people, to build teams, to make the tough decisions, and to think with clarity and foresight about the challenges we face and how to surmount them. We are also pleased that Sir Howard has accepted our request to remain with Sony after June as Chairman of the Board of Directors. His leadership and experience will be of immeasurable assistance to us all.”