Sony restructures: Kazuo Hirai takes helm of PC, A/V, gaming & more

Sony exec shuffling today, with Kazuo Hirai promoted to Representative Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Vice President as of April 1 2011, taking responsibility for TV, home video and audio, digital imaging, PC, gaming and mobile products, and potentially putting him first in line for when current lead Sir Howard Stringer steps down. That won't be for a little while yet, though, as Stringer has agreed to stay in post as Sony Chairman, CEO and President "through the next stage in its transformation."

That transformation sees Hirai's new Consumer Products & Services Group formed, containing all of Sony's consumer electronics and networked service functions, alongside a second Professional & Device Solutions Group. It will take responsibility for B2B, component and semiconductor businesses, led by Hiroshi Yoshioka, Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Deputy President of Sony Corporation, who will push the firm into new medical and energy segments.

The realignment is expected to make Sony more responsive and reduce the delay in reacting to the market and rivals. Stringer was believed to be considering both Hirai and Yoshioka as his potential replacement.

[Image credit: Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images AsiaPac]Press Release:

Sony Corporation Announces Executive Appointments and Realignment of Key Businesses

Tokyo, March 10, 2011 – Sony Corporation ("Sony" or the "Company") today announced executive appointments and realignment of its core electronics and networked service businesses effective April 1, 2011. These changes are intended to facilitate the next phase of Sony's transformation into the world's leading provider of networked entertainment and solutions.

Sir Howard Stringer, Representative Corporate Executive Officer, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, Sony Corporation, has extended his commitment to lead the Company through the next stage in its transformation. Under Mr. Stringer, Sony will realign its core electronics and networked service operations into two key business groups. After the realignment, all of Sony's consumer electronics and networked service functions will reside in one group, named the "Consumer Products & Services Group", and the growing B2B, component and semiconductor businesses will form the second group, the "Professional & Device Solutions Group".

Kazuo Hirai, currently Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Vice President, will be named Representative Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation, and will be responsible for the Consumer Products & Services Group, which will include all of Sony's consumer electronics businesses — including TV, Home Video, Home Audio, Digital Imaging, PC, Game and Mobile products — as well as the networked service businesses. Mr. Hirai will also oversee Sony's horizontal global sales and marketing, and common software platforms, as well as the Company's design operations. These are all core functions that primarily support the Company's consumer products and service businesses. In his current role, Mr. Hirai has successfully led the turnaround of the games business, expanded the PlayStation®Network – which now boasts more than 74 million registered accounts worldwide (as of March 9, 2011) — and directed the launch of Sony's new networked service platform. In his expanded role, Mr. Hirai will extend his focus to developing a new generation of compelling products, through which Sony plans to deliver seamless and compelling entertainment experiences to consumers in both the home and mobile spaces.

The Professional & Device Solutions Group, which includes broadcast and professional products, semiconductors, batteries and other key components, will be led by Hiroshi Yoshioka, Corporate Executive Officer and Executive Deputy President, Sony Corporation. Mr. Yoshioka will also utilize his engineering expertise and experience to further leverage Sony's competitive advantages in cutting-edge technologies and core devices to identify and pursue new business opportunities, such as in the energy and medical fields.

"I am excited to lead the Company through the next phase in its transformation," said Mr. Stringer. "This operational realignment will help accelerate Sony's growth and innovation by strategically focusing on our cross-Company goals and aggressively utilizing our technological strengths, with the goal of providing great entertainment experiences and innovative solutions to customers around the world. The new responsibilities of Kazuo Hirai and Hiroshi Yoshioka will enable us to concentrate on and, as appropriate, quickly shift resources to, areas where they will have the greatest impact on our overall business. The transformation we began two years ago is progressing very well. The strength of our core products and technologies is growing, and our networked strategy is now a reality. These initiatives, in tandem with our extensive content portfolio, will be the primary drivers of Sony's continued growth and success."

The new structure and executive appointments were formally approved by Sony's Board of Directors at a meeting of the Board held earlier today. "Sony is now entering the second phase of its transformation towards new development and growth, under the leadership of Mr. Stringer. Sony's Board of Directors is pleased that Mr. Stringer has accepted our request to continue his leadership of the Company as Chairman, CEO and President, and we will fully support him and his newly configured senior management team" said Yotaro Kobayashi, Chairman of the Board, Sony Corporation.

In recent years, Sony has made significant progress in strategically integrating its hardware, content and networked services, while also establishing horizontal platforms to streamline and optimize Sony's operations in areas such as manufacturing, supply chain management, sales and marketing, and software design. The Company has considerably improved its competitiveness and profitability.

This new organizational and management structure is intended to enable Mr. Stringer to continue to implement his Group-wide strategic vision, while also empowering the next generation of Sony's management to focus on current operations as well as long-term growth and development of the Company's core businesses.