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Can Hirai re-build Sony?

August 17, 2012

Business Week’s latest issue has an interview with Sony’s new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, who became Sony’s CEO in April and built his reputation by building Playstation into a power brand.

While Sony is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading brand names, it’s become something of a business school case study in how to miss the prevailing trends and underestimate competitors who end up eating your lunch.

Hirai’s Sony still has a massive amount of work to do to turn its business around and this includes another big round of job cuts, selling off non-core assets and streamlining production arrangements and facilities.

What’s clear from this interview is that Hirai understands clearly the magnitude of the problem and is trying hard to rally the Sony troops to solve it.

Hirai on Sony’s Problem:

“Ultimately it comes down to the products that we bring to the customers and the user experience. If we can’t deliver, then the brand is going to take a ding.”

Hirai on The Solution:

“What I’ve stressed actually is a Japanese word called kando. Literally, it means to move people emotionally. That’s what we’re all about, moving people emotionally.”

Hirai on Progress

“One of the things that encouraged me personally was that as I became president on the first of April, the design center presented me with a huge thick booklet of about 200 product ideas. Some are really far out in left field; others are like, you know what, these we can do tomorrow. It just showed that the creativity within Sony is certainly still vibrant.”

While it’s clear Hirai gets what needs to be done, it remains to be seen whether amongst the 200 ideas he was presented with back in April, there’s one that can be as culturally significant as Sony’s Walkman, or Apple’s iPod and iPad and how many of them would pass his “kando” test?


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