Sony finally makes it official: Kazuo Hirai will indeed step forward to replace Sir Howard Stringer as the new President and CEO of Sony Corp. effective April 1st this year. The announcement arrives just a few weeks after the company played down a report from Japanese newspaper The Nikkei confirming his impending appointment as president.
Not that anyone else was expected to take Stringer's place in either capacity at this point: Hirai has been serving as Executive Deputy President for Sony since last March, so the road was paved. You'll more closely associate Hirai with the PlayStation business, which he has been a part of since 1995 and helped forge into an international brand for Sony.
Hirai currently oversees all things PlayStation as president of both Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony's Consumer Products & Services Group (which encompasses Sony's entire consumer electronics businesses). Outgoing CEO Stringer meanwhile will become chairman of Sony's board of directors come April.
The good news is that Hirai's lofty new position should not dilute his commitment to watching PlayStation succeed. Indeed, in his statement to the press, Hirai identifies gaming as a core pillar in Sony's master plan:
"The path we must take is clear: to drive the growth of our core electronics businesses - primarily digital imaging, smart mobile and game; to turn around the television business; and to accelerate the innovation that enables us to create new business domains. The foundations are now firmly in place for the new management team and me to fully leverage Sony's diverse electronics product portfolio, in conjunction with our rich entertainment assets and growing array of networked services, to engage with our customers around the world in new and exciting ways."
It's saying something when Hirai's experience with making PlayStation grow as a global brand made him a prime candidate for Sony leadership. Hirai will need all his Ridge Racer skills handy, as he assumes the mantle of both president and CEO in tough times: Sony as a whole is expected to post an annual loss for the fourth financial year in a row, and its stock value has fallen by over 50 percent since 2005.