Sony plans to combine its consumer-electronics and gaming units and promote PlayStation chief Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai to head the new business, making him the "leading candidate" to succeed current CEO Howard Stringer, according to reports.
The Wall Street Journal reported that in addition to the new Consumer Products & Services Group, the April 1 reorganization will establish a Professional and Device Solutions Group, which will handle chips, components, and broadcasting products.
The Journal said the 69-year-old Stringer has renewed his contract and will oversee the restructuring, staying on for an unspecified period of time. Stringer told the Journal that the reorg was part of a conscious--though not yet finalized--succession plan, and called the 50-year-old Hirai "the leading candidate...because of his consistency and a continuance of the convergence strategy."
In 2009, Stringer said the convergence of networked entertainment and technology was key to the consumer-electronics industry, and at the heart of Sony's mission going forward. Not long after, Sony added company president to Stringer's existing roles as chairman and CEO, and Hirai became head of the newly created Networked Products and Services Group. Sony said at the time that the group was expected "to incubate new products leveraging Sony's best technologies. Integral to this process is the utilization and expansion of the PlayStation Network service platform."
On the network front, Sony said earlier this month that more than 80 percent of all PlayStation 3 consoles worldwide connect to the Internet, and that the company has tallied more than 70 million PlayStation Network accounts globally. On the gadget side, the company has struggled, but this past February the long-awaited "PlayStation Phone" finally appeared, making its debut at the Mobile World Congress, as the Xperia Play. The gizmo runs on Google's Gingerbread OS and combines gaming with a slew of smartphone features.