Kaz Hirai: User experience, not hardware, will turn Sony around

Sony is to become a leaner, swifter, less regimented organization, new CEO and President Kaz Hirai has promised, cutting through the swathes of structure that have seen projects delayed and efforts duplicated. Freshly elevated this week, Hirai's first challenge was to weather the storm of a worse-than-expected fiscal Q3 2011 report; his next, the WSJ reports, is persuading the final stubborn hold-outs at Sony that "if we don't turn this around, we could be sitting in some serious trouble."

Hirai says that corporate structure is what has kept Sony from capitalizing on product innovations, and in fact has kept the company trapped in the past. "We really need to buckle down and be realistic," he told the newspaper. "I don't think everybody is on board, but I think people are coming around to the idea."

To deliver on that, Hirai will use the same strategy that worked so well in Sony's gaming division. The exec turned the PlayStation around from $2bn losses to profit in just four years, though mediocre sales of the PS3 had a detrimental effect on fiscal Q3 2011 results.

"I thought turning around the PlayStation business was going to be the toughest challenge of my career, but I guess not. It's one issue after another. I feel like 'Holy s—, now what?" Kazuo Hirai, CEO and President, Sony

"User experience" not just solid hardware is the way forward for Sony, the new CEO believes. His predecessor, Howard Stringer – who will take position as chair of the Sony board later this year – set out plans for a "four screen" strategy last year, integrating TV, PC, tablet and smartphone in an overall ecosystem; however, that means Hirai has to persuade would-be customers to buy not just one Sony device, but four of them.

"We can't just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products," Hirai concludes, "even though some people expect us to do that."