The Wall Street Journal has published a profile of the next Sony President and CEO, Kazuo Hirai, in the hours before Sony is to announce its latest quarterly results. While Hirai's history as the man who turned around the PlayStation division is well-known, his plans for shaking up Sony are still a bit of a mystery. Cost cutting is definitely on the table, but Hirai may lay out details of a more ambitious corporate shakeup during the earnings call. He intends to move Sony beyond focusing on its past successes and get more involved in software and services, telling the WSJ that "We can't just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products." Hirai's goal is to centralize and unify decision making on new products rather than allow individual units to make their own decisions.
How hard will this change be? Hirai gave what can only be called a blunt assessment of the work ahead of him: "It's one issue after another. I feel like 'Holy s—, now what?'" He also noted that it will be difficult to overcome the institutional inertia that has kept Sony from innovating as aggressively as it needed to for the past few years, noting that "I don't think everybody is on board" yet.
Sony had forecasted it would post a $1.2 billion net loss for the year, and we should find out whether that's accurate soon. More importantly, we hope to find out if Hirai can execute on the kind of extreme shakeup he's talking about here. We've been asking Sony to act like Sony again for a long time now, perhaps Hirai can make it happen.