Home Sony To The Digital Future: We Surrender

Sony To The Digital Future: We Surrender

Sony appears ready to concede defeat in its effort to put its stamp on the digital future. CEO Kazuo Hirai broadly hinted that the company may sell off its struggling smartphone and smart TV operations as it focuses on more profitable—but generally much less exciting—parts of its business, Reuters reports.

“The strategy starting from the next business year will be about generating profit and investing for growth,” Hirai said at a briefing. When pushed on what that means for Sony’s phones and television sets, the CEO said he would not “rule out considering an exit strategy.”

Like BlackBerry and Nokia, Sony has suffered a post-iPhone slump in smartphone sales, fighting for scraps in a market it once helped to define. As Sony Ericsson, the company’s mobile communications arm had a string of successful feature phone handsets in the early 2000s. Then in 2007 the iPhone arrived, and Sony was slow to react; its first Xperia smartphone appeared in 2008, but the line was dogged by problems with software updates.

More recently, the Android-based Xperia line has gotten good reviews from users and the tech press. But the phones never sold well enough to make them a real business. That’s an issue facing every smartphone manufacturer out there—except Apple, that is.

The story is similar in smart TVs. Sony does have a strong, high-profile effort in the field, but is again struggling against a slew of competitors in a market that still hasn’t taken off.

It’s not the first time that Sony executives have hinted they’d like to cut their losses in smartphones and televisions, although it’s the strongest indication yet that 2015 might be the year for major change.

By contrast, Sony intends to double down on its camera-sensor and its PlayStation videogame units. Sony’s sensors are used in many of the world’s top smartphones, including the latest iPhone and iPad models manufactured by Apple.

Sony is restructuring as it tries to fight its way out of a devastating slump that’s led to six years of net losses out of the past seven. Twelve months ago, the company sold off its Vaio PC division and axed thousands of jobs.

“The TV and Mobile Communications businesses operate in markets characterized by high volatility and challenging competitive landscapes,” reads a statement released by Sony. The company says it will be looking to curtail risk, select territories and product areas carefully, and potentially link up with other firms to stem losses in these two categories.

Photo courtesy of Sony

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