Sony's new head of consumer products to lead unit formed from Sony Ericsson

The Japanese tech giant will put all consumer products, including mobile phones, under one boss

Sony said Wednesday that the newly installed head of its consumer electronics business will also lead the mobile unit formed when it acquired Sony Ericsson, marking the first time its smartphone, tablet, and PC businesses are all under the same leadership.

The company said Kunimasa Suzuki, the executive promoted to oversee Sony's core product group from this month, will become head of Sony Mobile Communications on May 16. The change comes as new Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai attempts to further integrate the company's diverse product lines, which include semiconductors, game consoles, and large-screen TVs.

Hirai has said that while Sony will continue to roll out the gadgets that once made it an electronics icon, the company will try to focus on software and content platforms that work across them. An example is its upcoming "PlayMemories Online" cloud service for storing photos, which works across its games, PCs and cameras, and a platform for PlayStation games that work across various devices.

The model for sleek electronic products backed by uniform software is Apple, with its iTunes and app store, and iCloud storage platforms. But Apple is famous for its careful releases of a small number of highly compatible devices -- it typically releases a single new iPhone per year, while Sony has over a dozen of its Xperia phones on the market.

Sony announced in October that it would would pay Ericsson €1.05 billion (US$810 million) for its 50 percent stake in their Sony Ericsson venture. The company was turned into a full subsidiary called Sony Mobile Communications, based in London.

The Japanese electronics firm is attempting to restructure while dealing with heavy losses. For the fiscal year that ended in March, Sony is expected to announce losses of nearly US$3 billion.

Hirai has remained in charge of Sony's ailing TV business, which he has repeatedly said the company will turn around and not abandon despite years of deep losses.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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