Sony aims to rebuild

28 February 2012

TOKYO: Sony, the Japanese electronics group, is seeking to "rebuild" its product portfolio, reflecting a past failure to keep up with its rivals.

Kazuo Hirai, Sony's in-coming chief executive, has revealed his "key initiative" going forward will be "rebuilding Sony's electronics business", from televisions to mobile phones.

The impetus behind these moves has resulted from the $2.1bn loss posted by the company during its most recent reporting quarter and an anticipated $2.9bn loss for the year ending in March 2012.

"We will revitalise our product portfolio," he said. "Sony is continuing to work tirelessly to deliver a unique user experience by marrying hardware, content, and services, and this theme is prevalent throughout our mobile strategy as well."

The Japanese firm has just launched the Xperia U and Xperia P smartphones, and plans to increasingly incorporate photographic and gaming technology, its two core revenue drivers, into its wireless gadgets.

As part of its new approach, Sony will also pursue a more coordinated strategy, "One Sony", utilising its entertainment assets, such as music and movies, to boost product sales.

Similarly, its takeover of a joint venture with Ericsson late last year, and the rebranding of Sony Ericsson as Sony Mobile, is hoped to yield positive outcomes for the company and for customers.

"Our competitors don't have the issue of dealing with two corporate parents. Now Sony Mobile is able to quickly align focus and execute, which is exactly what we need to be doing," said Hirai.

"Apart from making sure that the integration of Sony Mobile goes smoothly, our main focus is to bring as many new smartphones to consumers as quickly as possible."

The case study of the Xperia Play, a smartphone offering PlayStation features but selling a modest 700,000 units in nine months due to limited games releases, was indicative of the prior problem.

A concern for Sony when the Xperia Play launched was the potential impact on sales of the PlayStation Portable, and the firm is only likely to undertake this kind of move again if it is genuinely breaking new ground.

"If we believe that we are able to provide a cutting edge gaming experience, together with a compelling communications experience, we will look at such a device. But we don't want to end up with a product that is a compromise," said Hirai.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/All Things D/PC Magazine additional content by Warc staff