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2014年9月25日 (木)

社説:ソニー巨額赤字 復活の戦略作りに期待

September 24, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Beleaguered Sony needs bold revival strategy
社説:ソニー巨額赤字 復活の戦略作りに期待

There's no end to Sony Corp.'s slump. Weak sales in its mobile phone business have forced the company to project a loss of 230 billion yen for the current fiscal year ending in March 2015.

Pitted against Chinese and other Asian mobile phone manufacturers with more competitively priced products, Sony has been unable to offer goods attractive enough to overcome such price discrepancies. Sony's predicament is symbolic of the one that Japan's entire manufacturing industry faces. We urge Sony to rebuild its management strategy to reclaim its past glory.

Sony's net loss forecast ballooned from its previous prediction of 50 billion yen because of a lower valuation of its mobile business and an approximately 180-billion-yen impairment charge. As a result, the company has been forced to suspend its shareholder dividend for the first time since it went public in 1958.

In July, Sony revised its smartphone sales targets for the current term from 50 million units to 43 million units. It had hoped to expand sales in emerging economies, but sales have fallen short of initial predictions with Chinese manufacturers dominating the market with competitive prices. Sony says sales in Chinese and South American markets have been especially weak.

This marks the sixth downward revision in the two years since Kazuo Hirai became president of Sony pledging to rebuild the firm's electronics division.

The downward adjustments thus far were considered a part of structural reform to dispose of its underperforming businesses, including spinning off its television division and selling its computer division.

This time, however, the cause for the downgrade is poor performance of the company's smartphone division, which Sony had expected would be a main pillar in its turnaround. As such, there are bound to be more serious repercussions for Sony's management.

Sony announced that it will narrow down its target markets only to those where the company can expect good earnings, cut back on low-priced models, and focus on high-value-added products.

It also said that in scaling down its smartphone division, it will cut some 1,000 -- or 15 percent -- of its staff both in Japan and abroad by next March.

Even Samsung Electronics Co., which tops the world's smartphone share, and Apple Inc., which comes in second, are feeling the heat of their Chinese rivals and are concentrating on high-end models. Under such circumstances, it's unclear whether Sony can secure the earning power it needs.

Narrowing down target markets and focusing on value-added products is the same tack that Sony took when Chinese and South Korean manufacturers threatened the survival of its television business.

It's the copycat strategy that the Japanese manufacturing industry at one time took in its battle for survival.

It will not be easy to pull the company out of this quagmire.

Other electronics giants are improving their earning capacity by cutting back on digital consumer electronics, which are prone to intense price-slashing competition, and beefing up residential- and automobile-related products for corporate clients.

A bold re-examination of its management strategy is imperative if Sony -- which at one time took the world by storm with the Walkman -- is to be revived.

毎日新聞 2014年09月24日 02時30分


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