Sony announced today that it is shaking up its management structure in an effort to avoid yet another year of losses.
Sony has definitely seen better days. Its TV unit has been the largest headache as of late, with eight years of quarterly losses. Last December, Sony decided to shake up its TV division by negotiating a buyout of its 50 percent manufacturing stake with Samsung in the LCD joint venture. It also split its TV division into three units consisting of sales of LCD TVs, outsourcing manufacturing to cheaper foreign facilities and developing future TVs.
In addition to TV-related woes, Sony took a beating in early 2011 when hackers repeatedly breached several Sony websites and services such as the PlayStation Network database and the Sony Online Entertainment database. Many customer records were stolen in the process.
Now, Sony is getting serious about making some changes. Early last month, the company named Kazuo Hirai as the new chief executive officer, replacing current CEO Sir Howard Stringer. Hirai, who is currently Sony's executive deputy president, will become CEO on April 1, but already has many new plans in motion for the company -- including putting himself in charge of the struggling TV unit.
Hirai has mentioned before that he is committed to the TV business. He believes that they are important in the Sony gadget ecosystem as far as playing the role of an output device, which allows customers to properly experience the company's content.
However, Hirai may be taking a big risk by putting his reputation on the line for the failing TV business. Sony has been losing to TV makers like LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung, who are both selling TVs rather well. Nevertheless, Sony set a target of 20 million TV sets sold by March 31.
Aside from the TV unit, Sony is making other big changes in hope of new beginnings. For instance, Shoji Nemoto will now oversee Sony's technology strategy and digital imaging and solution units; Tomoyuki Suzuki will oversee Sony's chip and device solution businesses, and Kunimasa Suzuki will take over product strategy, mobile phones and personal computers. Sony said it will make digital imaging, games and mobile its "three core pillars" of the electronics business.
Sony also cut two divisions at it main electronics unit and created a new business unit. The two to be abolished include the consumer products and services group and the professional device and solutions group. A new division, called the medical business unit, will be run by Executive Deputy President Hiroshi Yoshioka.