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Sony Update: Stringer Assumes Command, Hirai Heads New Division

After posting an operating loss for the first time in 14 years - and it was quite a large number - Sony has been forced to reshuffle and reorganize. After the corporate whirlwind, here's how things fall (we've got a lot to talk about):

According to a variety of sources, including GameZine, Edge and Joystiq, the first piece of big news is that Sony CEO Howard Stringer will replace Ryoji Chubachi as president of the company. Chubachi will assume the new role of vice chairman in charge of quality and environmental issues; Stringer will officially take the helm on April 1. Said Yuuki Sakurai, general manager of financial and investment planning at Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance: "The Japanese can’t take decisive actions toward their comrades during hardship. As a non-Japanese without such loyalties, Stringer is better positioned to conduct the large-scale restructuring that Sony has to do." So that takes care of the leader of the new pack.

Now, onto Ken Kutaragi's replacement, Kaz Hirai. He will now take charge of the freshly formed Networked Products & Services group, which will include PlayStation, VAIO, and Walkman. The added purpose of this division is to "ensure that the company can focus on creating gadgets that can work together with one another wirelessly." As for the Bravia TVs, Cyber-shot digital cameras, and general audio and video operations, these will now fall into the new Consumer Products Group. The head of Bravia, Hiroshi Yoshioka, will take charge of this division. As one added little bonus, Sony has also announced a brand new software-based team to "bolster product connectivity and save costs."

This restructuring should let Sony save $3 billion in costs, which is higher than the prior estimate of $2.5 billion. New chief Howard Stringer had this to say in response to the major company moves:

"This is the worst recession of our lifetime. But in difficult times, there is opportunity. The changes we're announcing today will accelerate the transformation of the company that began four years ago. They will now make it possible for all of Sony's parts to work together to assume a position of worldwide leadership and, together, achieve great things."

So there you have it. Sony has made the moves analysts and investors have asked them to make, so now it's just a wait and see situation. But nobody can claim Sony didn't respond to the issue; that's for damn sure.

2/27/2009 Ben Dutka

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