Sony outlines strategy to revitalize TV group


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Sony used the backdrop of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to talk about the company’s plans to revitalize its struggling television division.

Executive Deputy President Kazuo Hirai said new technologies, such as the Crystal LED prototype the company showcased Monday in its news conference, will factor in plans to return the TV group to profitability by March 2014.


Hirai reiterated the cost-cutting measures Sony announced last fall, as the television division plunged to a loss. Those include dissolving a joint venture with Samsung, closing plants, and reducing the number of televisions it ships by eliminating ‘overlap,’ he said.

Sony executives continued to voice support for 3-D television technology, which has not caught on with consumers as quickly as many manufacturers had hoped.

‘As with any new technology, it’s going to take a while,’ said Hirai, noting that demand would be fueled by the increasing availability of new movies and games in 3-D.

Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics, said the company introduced a new line of 3-D glasses Monday to address consumer complaints about the weight. ‘I could wear them on the ski slope, they’re so sexy,’ he said.

Sony Corp.’s chief executive, chairman and president, Sir Howard Stringer, sought to draw parallels in adoption of 3-D in the home to the introduction of the first color TV sets.

‘It’s becoming a feature of television. It’s built in,’ Stringer said, noting that in the future TV viewers will be watching sitcoms in 3-D — not just ‘smash bang’ action series. ‘It’s an inevitability, so be patient. There has never been a tech like this for which you didn’t have to be patient.’

Investors also will have to be patient in learning about Sony’s succession plans.

Asked about reports that Sony would elevate Hirai to president in the spring, Stringer said he never intended to keep the title as president. He offered no concrete details about succession planning, other than it is a process that ends ‘with the approval of the board.’

‘I’ve been planning succession for a long time. Many of you have written about it,’ Stringer said, adding that the Nikkei report last week that Hirai would be elevated in April ‘came as as a surprise to me.’


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— Dawn C. Chmielewski