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Prepare for ‘Aggressive’ Sony Turnaround: CEO

The chief executive of Japanese technology giant Sony promised an “aggressive,” product-focused turnaround in an interview with CNBC.

A Sony Corp. store
Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Sony Corp. store

Kazuo Hirai, who started as chief executive in April, told CNBC: “We need to do several things at once. The first important thing is to make sure we’re laser focused on the core business. Those areas are: gaming; the mobile space and digital imaging. A lot of the investments that we have done are in that space.”

He added: “We need to turn the television business around. This is a very aggressive initiative that I personally am undertaking. We’re making an aggressive move into the emerging markets as well.”

Hirai spoke to CNBC at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, just before announcing a new waterproof tablet device called the Xperia Tablet S, a competitor for Apple’s iPad. The Xperia line, a market leader in Japan, is one of Sony’s key areas of focus for the future.

Sony’s problems have been well-documented. The once-dominant company which became a symbol of Japan’s business prowess has suffered four years of losses and failed to capture consumers’ imagination in the way other technology companies like Apple have.

When Hirai, who made his name in Sony’s PlayStationbusiness, came in as chief executive, he announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs globally and shift much of the company’s production to Malaysia almost immediately.

“We need to aggressively expand market share in the European market where we already have a foothold,” he said. “The U.S. market continues to be very competitive. A lot of innovative products are coming in. At the same time, the economy has room to improve. It’s important for Sony and other companies to bring in products that really excite customers.”

He added: “Emerging markets overall still have a lot of potential for growth. There’s a growing middle class and a very young population that is looking for global products.”

But the current global economic uncertainty has made the past few months trickier for consumer electronics companies.

Markets will recover in different time frames,” Hirai said. “If you look at some of the challenging situations that we see in European market, the turnaround doesn’t feel that it’s happening at this point. I’m a firm believer that markets will turn eventually for the better, and I want to make sure that when it does, we’re there with products consumers can enjoy.”

He added: “Pricing is important everywhere. The fact that economies are in challenging situations is not a reason Sony should sit back and relax. That’s when we should bring forward exciting new products to stimulate demand.”

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