So far he has failed to deliver any profits, but Sony Chairman Howard Stringer wants to remain the company’s Chief Executive for at least another three years, according to an interview the Welsh-born executive has given to BusinessWeek.Stringer’s answer to Sony’s current cash flow problems has been to shut factories and sack up to 20,000 staff.
According to some observers, this may not happen, as all Stringer has delivered to date is back-to-back losses, which are the first since Sony listed in 1958. Currently Sony is losing money from just about everything it makes for the consumer electronics market.
In Australia, local boss Carl Rose has struggled to hold onto market share as competitors move in.
Recently Sony Australia was able to claw back market share in the flat-panel TV market, from a low of 14 per cent to 30 per cent, giving the company level pegging with Samsung. To get there, Sony gave away PS3 gaming consoles, slashed prices and offered extended warranties for its Bravia TVs, which are now being made by third party manufacturers because of the mass sackings and the closing of Sony factories by Stringer.
2010 is a big year for Sony, with the company set to spend millions on a major new marketing imitative wrapped around the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, designed to shore up the Sony brand. Sony is also set to launch new OLED TVs along with new 3D TVs. Stringer has also said that Sony will expand into online services and electric car batteries to spur sales growth.
BusinessWeek said that Sony, which pioneered the portable-music industry with its Walkman players in the 1970s before ceding the market lead to Apple, will start selling TVs, Blu-ray players and game consoles that can show 3D images from next fiscal year. 3D products, excluding content, will generate more than 1 trillion yen in 12 months to March 2013, Sony said last month.
Sony, which has struggled to produce hit products like the iPod or iPhone, now has to compete with Samsung, a company that is tipping billions in research and development of new products. Sony is also expanding its battery operations, despite having a string of bad luck with notebook batteries earlier this year, after 9 million Sony-made batteries were recalled due to several bursting into flames inside notebooks.
At a briefing in Tokyo on the weekend, Sony said that it plans to spend 100 billion yen researching and developing lithium-ion batteries, and that the company is in talks to supply its products to several automotive companies, according to Executive Deputy President Hiroshi Yoshioka.
“I don’t think there are any deals that are written in stone,” Stringer said, referring to battery makers’ discussions with carmakers. “If you produce the right batteries, they will come.”
“They may have to slim down their businesses and concentrate on the areas where they can win,” Analyst Fukoku’s Sakurai told BusinessWeek. “He has to show which way the company is going to move and get people concentrated on moving in the same direction. He hasn’t done that yet.”