Sony Corp chairman Howard Stringer promised yesterday to shift the struggling electronics giant from recovery to growth and to boost PlayStation 3's (PS3) games lineup, calling the console a key profit driver despite its bungled rollout.
But investors at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Tokyo remained skeptical of an imminent turnaround, pressing Stringer for a clear strategy on how Sony intended to recoup losses at its video games unit and catch up to rivals like Apple Inc in portable music players.
"We will shift Sony from recovery to profitable growth," Stringer told about 7,000 shareholders gathered in Tokyo, saying Sony's integrated approach to electronics, games and entertainment made it a "dominant" firm in the digital age.
Other Sony executives said the company's key electronics sector was also regaining its health on booming flat-panel TV and digital camera sales. The company maintained its upbeat forecast for record fiscal year earnings.
The bullish tone signals that Sony may finally be rebounding from a host of recent mishaps, including the PS3 game console launch and a massive battery recall that widened recent losses.
Stringer, who is also chief executive, said the PS3 was "a key driver" of future growth despite a rollout marred by embarrassing delays, production shortages and intense competition from Nintendo Co's popular Wii console.
Sony shipped 5.5 million PS3 machines in fiscal year through March, fewer than the 6 million the company had targeted and losing out to Nintendo, which shipped 5.84 million Wii machines worldwide during the same period.
A price tag set below production costs has also eroded profits, and Sony has warned its gaming division will be in the red.
"All the production problems have been solved. We are making a comeback already," said Stringer, promising to boost game offerings and bolster the machine's networking platform.
"We always lose money in the hardware initially, and we recover that money gradually," he said. "We believe that the PS3 going forward will be vital to our future, and succeed."
Sony's newfound confidence also demonstrates the key strides it has made in catching up to rivals like Sharp Corp and Samsung Electronics Co in flat panel TVs and other products.
Pressed by shareholders at the meeting, Stringer said that Sony would not repeat its blunders in ceding dominance in the portable music player market to Apple Inc's iPod.
Sony was making a comeback as the market moved toward video-equipped players and as more customers listened to music on their mobile phones, he said.
"We have worked very hard to catch up so that in the age of video we will not suffer as much as we did in audio," he said.
"More and more customers are getting their music downloads on their mobile phones, and in this case, the Sony-Ericsson mobile phone is a great success and we have sold as many of them as iPods," he said, referring to Sony's joint venture with LM Ericsson.
Sony president Ryoji Chubachi maintained a bullish earnings forecast for this fiscal year, saying he expected profit to more than double to a record ¥320 billion (US$2.7 billion) from ¥126.3 billion the previous year on strong demand for liquid-crystal-display TVs, camcorders and digital cameras.
Last year, Sony's popular Bravia flat-panel TVs grabbed top world market share in the sector measured in sales, he said.
Still, investors remained wary of a full recovery. Sony shares, which have risen 27 percent this year, fell 1.51 percent to ¥6,520 in Tokyo following the shareholders' meeting.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
Chinese health authorities investigating a COVID-19 outbreak have said that they discovered live coronavirus on frozen food packaging, a finding that suggests the virus can survive in cold supply chains. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday said that it had found traces of live COVID-19 on the outer packaging of frozen cod in the eastern city of Qingdao, marking the first time that live coronavirus has been detected on the outside of refrigerated goods. Researchers were investigating the source of a cluster of cases linked to a hospital in Qingdao. Genetic traces had previously been found in samples of
A Chinese soldier apprehended earlier this week by the Indian Army after he strayed across a tense de facto border was on Tuesday night handed back to China, an Indian government source in New Delhi said yesterday. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier had on Monday been captured in the Demchok area of eastern Ladakh, the Indian Army said in a statement. The Chinese military also released a statement, saying that Corporal Wang Yalong was handed over early yesterday. New Delhi on Monday said that it had detained Wang after he crossed into Indian-controlled territory, while China announced that Wang had gotten