Analysts say he was able to do only some of what he wanted. Stringer eliminated thousands of jobs, and outsourced some factory production, slimming the supply chain. He also dissolved the company’s partnership with Ericsson in a struggling mobile phone venture.
Stringer’s cost-cutting, though, faced resistance from executives in Japan, who before the 2008 economic crisis felt that Sony could thrive without layoffs. Even after the financial shock Stringer made few changes to operations in Japan. Some 50,000 of the company’s 168,000 employees remain in Japan, where labor costs are among the world’s highest.
Sony was founded in 1946 (as the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) and headquartered in a burned out department store. During the next decades, Sony created products that people wanted — before consumers even knew they wanted them. Televisions and camcorders and Walkmans.
But the company has struggled for years to find another hit. It pitched the digital Walkman as an iPod competitor, but the device had a clunky interface and used proprietary audio files, not the standard MP3s. It released its first tablet almost 11/2 years after Apple released its iPad. Sony’s latest attempt at a hit is the PlayStation Vita, a handheld device designed specifically for gamers — even at a time when more and more people are playing games on their mobile phones.