Company launches Sony Online Service

TOKYO — Howard Stringer said he’s back on track to make Sony profitable again.Sony’s chief exec unveiled plans for a corporate makeover Thursday, targeting a 5% operating profit and 10% return on equity by March 2013.

Stringer originally announced the former goal when he joined Sony in 2005, but circumstances have since intervened — including a worldwide recession, accompanied by a sharp rise of the yen — that have pushed profits southward.

Stringer and his new management team, installed in April, have been carrying out cost-reduction measures, such as slashing headcount by 19,500 in the past year.

Sony now claims that, after the first half of the current fiscal year, it had achieved 80% of its goals of cutting ¥330 billion ($3.7 billion) from groupwide costs by March 31, 2010.

The company is also launching a number of initiatives, including the tentatively titled Sony Online Service, on which users can do everything from downloading pics, music and other content to accessing software and services.

The basis of the new service is the PlayStation Network, with its 33 million registered users, but Sony plans to link it not only to the PlayStation 3 but also to mobile devices and other electronics products. By March 2013, the company expects its network service biz to earn $3.37 billion annually.

Sony also intends to grow its 3D biz, launching not only new 3D TVs, Blu-ray disc players and other hardware for the home but also 3D games for the PS3 by March 2013.

Meanwhile, the company plans to lead the biz in the making, distribbing and projecting of 3D pics. Its target revenue from all 3D products is $11.2 billion or higher in the fiscal year ending March 2013.

Despite the new corporate plan, Sony expects to rack up its second consecutive fiscal-year loss, though it has reduced the projected figure from $1.35 billion to $1.01 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

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