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'One Sony' shift awaits new chief Hirai

Sony says it will focus on three "pillars" -- digital imaging, gaming, and mobile. Oh, and Hirai will also head up the entire home entertainment operation, including the TV biz.

Sony's incoming CEO Kazuo Hirai.
Sony's incoming CEO Kazuo Hirai.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sony's incoming chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, has been hard at work behind the scenes preparing his company for his arrival.

The consumer electronics giant today announced its "One Sony" business structure, which it says is designed to "establish rapid and optimized decision-making processes." Part of the plan involves installing executives to lead certain divisions, while another will shift the company's focus to "three core pillars" -- digital imaging, gaming, and the mobile market.

That might not come as a surprise to many investors and those who have followed Sony. The company recently doubled down on tablets and smartphones, getting Ericsson out of the way of its long-standing joint venture, and PlayStation 3 sales are on the upswing. They also help Sony follow through on its desire to target customers on all the screens they're using.

Speaking of screens, Sony continues to have trouble getting televisions into homes around the world. Things have become so tough for the firm's television operation that some investors have called on it to sell that unit to another company. But Hirai believes it's a key ingredient in his company's future. He's so sure, in fact, that today Sony announced that he'll be heading up Sony's entire home entertainment operation, including the TV business.

Although neither Sony nor Hirai have said what he will do in that capacity, he'll likely build upon the company's decision last year to split the TV business into three distinct groups focusing on LCD TVs, outsourcing operations, and next-generation TVs. In today's statement, Sony said that its television business is "continuing to address the challenge of enhancing profitability."

In addition, Sony says it plans to invest heavily in research and development to "create new businesses and enhance the R&D operations that are the foundations for Sony's next generation of technological innovation."

Aside from shifting its focus, Sony has also moved executives around. Sony executive vice president and chief financial officer Masaru Kato, chief strategy officer Tadashi Saito, and executive vice president Shoji Nemoto will oversee the company's technology strategy. Nemoto will also be involved in the firm's core device strategies.

Sony plans to implement its changes on April 1 when Hirai takes over as Sony's chief executive. Sony's current CEO, Howard Stringer, will stay on as the company's board chairman.