Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Sony on track for a comeback, chief executive says


A man looks at Sony TVs at an electronics shop in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Sony Corp, the struggling Japanese electronics and entertainment company, is headed in the right direction, although its comeback is not yet complete, its chief executive said yesterday.

Kazuo Hirai told reporters that Sony is now more nimble and focused under his leadership, which began nine months ago. Sony has lost money for the past four years and has fallen behind powerful rivals such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co in profitability and innovation.

Hirai acknowledged Sony had gotten bogged down in its sprawling bureaucracy and stressed he is making a point of personal involvement in product development to make sure good ideas do not get squelched.

“I’m shepherding several of those projects personally myself to make sure that it doesn’t get held up in the bureaucracy, or it doesn’t suddenly fade away in the approval process,” he said at the firm’s Tokyo headquarters.

A continuing headache has been Sony’s TV division, now in its ninth straight year of red ink.

Like other Japanese electronics makers, Sony is taking a beating from Taiwanese, Chinese and South Korean rivals that offer products at much cheaper prices. Hirai said Sony would target customers willing to pay more and would not get sucked into a price war.

For the previous fiscal year ended March last year, Sony reported a record annual loss of ¥457 billion (US$5.1 billion) amid troubles exacerbated by factory and supplier damage in northeastern Japan from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Still, Hirai was upbeat, stressing his determination to move or “wow” people with new products.

He proudly held up Sony’s new waterproof, full-HD mobile phone, set to go on sale around the world in the next few months.

That product, as well as the 4K or “ultra-HD” TV, whose display has four times the pixels of today’s TVs, received mostly positive feedback at the recent International CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

However, Hirai acknowledged it may take several years, or as long as a decade, for 4K technology to catch on.

He noted Sony’s advantage in running a movie studio to make sure Sony Pictures offers 4K.

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