updated 04:05 am EST, Wed February 1, 2012
Kaz Hirai to head up Sony, Stringer new chairman
Sony has announced (PDF) that beginning April 1, Kaz Hirai (51) will become the company's new president and CEO. Current president and CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, will move to the position of chairman of the Sony board of directors, paving the way for the ascension of the former PlayStation chief. Other leadership changes will be outlined in the coming days and weeks as the company seeks to turn its flagging fortunes around.
The rise of Kaz Hirai to the top job has been expected. Hirai has recently been on the end of a series of promotions, leading him to his current position as vice-president of Sony Corp. In a statement from the company, Stringer recommended to the board that Hirai should take charge of the company.
'Three years ago, I started to work with the Board on succession plans, and in February, 2009 we named a new generation of leaders to be my management team,' said Stringer in a prepared statement. ' Among them was Kaz Hirai, who had distinguished himself through his work in the PlayStation and networked entertainment businesses,' he added.
Despite the highly publicized, embarrassing and damaging PlayStation network hacking scandal where 70 million user's account details were exposed, Hirai is still in held in high regard within Sony for turning its once loss-making gaming division into a strong earner for the company. The company recently announced that it expects to suffer its fourth consecutive year of losses, the result of stiff competition in the flat panel TV market and an inability for the once highly innovative company to develop new markets and respond quickly enough to emerging markets including the explosion in Android handsets and the iPhone.
Under Hirai, Sony aims to continue to connect is entertainment hardware with its online entertainment network offerings, which it is potentially well-placed to do. While its online business has suffered from a lack of focus in the past, it is now much more cohesive. Sony now has a series of tablet and smartphone apps, as well as smart TV apps, connecting users much more effectively to its vast array of music, gaming, TV and movie content.
Before the Japan earthquake and the Thai floods, Stringer had hoped to return the company to profit, but the effect of the natural disasters made it difficult to assess the effectiveness of the changes that Stringer had already initiated. The board will be hoping that Hirai can exercise the same drive and vision as president and CEO, that helped the PlayStation franchise reach its current levels of success. Hirai is also expected to appointed to the board in June at a shareholder meeting.