Sony’s Chief Executive and Chairman Howard Stringer will be adding the title of president as he takes more control of the Japanese electronics company as it battles with lower demand and lack of hit products. After four years of being the first non-Japanese executive in Sony’s history, he has taken control of the electronics division from his two highest-ranking subordinates and gave their duties to younger executives.
The shuffle is the most aggressive move yet by Stringer, has he took the top job despite Sony’s troubles in 2005 – and is set to report its first net loss in 14 years.
Sony’s reorganisation will see current President and head of the electronics division Ryoji Chubachi stepping down in April and taking the role of vice chairman. Katsumi Ihara, head of the consumer products group, will be moving to become a director at Sony Financial Holdings.
In their place, Kazuo Hirai, who currently heads the video games division, will be head the new networked products and services group; and Kunimasa Suzuki will oversee the VAIO computer team and in charge of developing home and mobile products.
Stringer has told the Wall Street Journal that several senior executives were focused on the Japanese market, putting it at a disadvantage as the yen grows stronger against other currencies. “I am more aware of how far we are behind than maybe Japanese executives,” he said.
Credited for making the Walkman and the music-player market, the Walkman has yet to find a strong challenger to the Apple iPod. It’s PlayStation brand, which has been traditionally been the better of its competitors, has become third place as Nintendo resurges with its Wii, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360’s new cheaper price.
Also, it is losing in the personal computers and television market.
Sony’s diverse interests also include a record label (Sony Music Entertainment), a motion picture studio (Sony Pictures and MGM), a mobile phone company (Sony Ericsson), several television stations (including Animax), chemicals and life insurance.
While Stringer has been successful of improving Sony’s profits, he is still facing resistance from Japanese executives as they are accustomed to the “traditional way” of doing things, according to a source telling the Wall Street Journal.