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Sunday 21 September 2014

Sony on track for comeback says CEO

Published 17/01/2013 | 10:00

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Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said he wants to 'wow' people with new products (AP)

Sony, the struggling Japanese electronics and entertainment company, is headed in the right direction although its comeback is not yet complete, its chief executive said.

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Kazuo Hirai told reporters that Sony is now more nimble and focused under his leadership which began nine months ago. Sony has lost money for the past four years and has fallen behind powerful rivals such as Apple and Samsung in profitability and innovation.

Mr Hirai acknowledged Sony had got bogged down in its sprawling bureaucracy, and stressed he is making a point of personal involvement in product development to make sure good ideas do not get squashed.

"I'm shepherding several of those projects personally myself to make sure that it doesn't get held up in the bureaucracy, or it doesn't suddenly fade away in the approval process," he said at Tokyo headquarters.

A continuing headache has been Sony's TV division, now in its ninth straight year of red ink. Like other Japanese electronics makers, Sony is taking a beating from Chinese, Taiwan and South Korean rivals that offer products at much cheaper prices. Mr Hirai said Sony will target customers willing to pay more and will not get sucked into a price war.

The maker of Bravia TVs and PlayStation 3 game machines reports earnings next month for last year's final quarter. The numbers are expected to highlight a Sony midway through its recovery. For the previous fiscal year ended March 2012, Sony reported a record annual loss of 457 billion yen (£3.2 billion) amid troubles exacerbated by factory and supplier damage in north-eastern Japan from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Still, Mr Hirai was upbeat, stressing his determination to move or "wow" people with new products.

He proudly held up Sony's new waterproof, full-HD mobile phone, set to go on sale around the world in the next few months.

That product, as well as the 4K or "ultra-HD" TV, whose displays have four times the pixels of today's TVs, received mostly positive feedback at the recent International CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

But Mr Hirai acknowledged it may take several years, or as long as a decade, for 4K technology to catch on. He noted Sony's advantage in running a film studio to make sure Sony Pictures offers 4K.

Press Association

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