Stringer rallies the troops

Chief exec says he is a 'Sony Warrior'

HONG KONG — Sony chief executive Howard Stringer promised Thursday that the iconic Japanese corporation has learned from its mistakes and is on the road to recovery.

Rallying the troops at a Tokyo shareholders meeting, Stringer described himself as a “Sony Warrior.” He thrilled the 6,700 shareholders present by insisting that the company’s near unique and often criticized stretch from hardware to entertainment software would be vindicated in coming years.

“In the digital age, we have new competitors — not just consumer electronics companies but IT companies like Apple and Microsoft and Intel and Chinese companies,” Stringer said. “The integrated approach to this competition using electronics, games and entertainment, seamlessly integrated with software, will be the best way to be the dominant company.

“We will shift Sony from recovery to profitable growth.”

He promised to turn the PlayStation 3 into a profit center, despite its difficult start and consumer resistance to its high price.

“All the (PS3) production problems have been solved. We are making a comeback already,” said Stringer, promising to boost game offerings and bolster the machine’s networking platform. Sony sold 5.5 million consoles in its last financial year, fewer than its target and slightly fewer than surprise games hit, the Wii from Nintendo.

Ken Kutaragi, the father of the PlayStation and exec in charge of the roll-out, recently announced his resignation as chairman and Group CEO. But Kutaragi remains with the company as honorary chairman and Stringer said he hoped the game whiz will come up with “another brilliant discovery” to equal the PlayStation.

At the meeting, other execs pointed to flat screen TVs and digital cameras as reasons that company is on track to deliver surging earnings in its current fiscal year to March.

Stringer even promised a comeback in the portable music player market, where its Walkman once stood tall.

“More and more customers are getting their music downloads on their mobile phones, and in this case, the Sony-Ericsson mobile phone is a great success and we have sold as many of them as iPods,” he said.

(Mark Schilling in Tokyo and the Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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