Sony sent a message of change Friday in centering power in Chief Executive Howard Stringer, who will also become president and gain greater say over its core electronics business as Japan's iconic electronics maker tackles a painful global slump.
Welsh-born American Stringer, the first foreigner to head Sony , replaces Ryoji Chubachi, who steps down as president April 1 but remains on the board as vice chairman to oversee quality and ecological strategy, and support the new management team.
Chubachi, 61, has overseen the electronics business, which has been battered by shrinking consumer demand and the strong yen.
The problems in electronics, including losses in TV operations, are a main reason Sony is tumbling into its first annual net loss in 14 years.
Stringer, 67, introduced a team of four younger executives, three of them in their 40s -- including Kazuo Hirai, 48, head of Sony's game unit -- to spearhead efforts to bring together Sony's sprawling empire, spanning TVs, games, movies and semiconductors, to develop products and services for the digital age.
At a news conference at Sony's Tokyo headquarters, Stringer acknowledged Sony had not been quick enough, and had lost to American rivals like Apple as well as Asian ones like Samsung Electronics.
And Sony had to do more to integrate its hardware gadget strengths with software businesses like Internet services, video gaming and movies and other entertainment content, he said.
"We must drive change along several fronts," Stringer told reporters. "We must regroup and rationalize our important core electronics product business. We must accelerate the introduction of innovative network product and service offerings."
But besides references to the company's PlayStation 3 businesses, such as the "Home" virtual community, and Net-linking TVs and other such devices, the executives offered little that was overly specific or surprising.
Sony's gaming business has had mixed results, and some analysts say the PlayStation 3 hasn't fared as well as it should have against Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Japanese rival Nintendo's hit Wii console.