2015 was another difficult year for Sony—from a costly cyber attack to criticism over the decision to not screen The Interview and a drop in revenue in its entertainment and mobile businesses. However, the company is showing clear signs of righting its course.
Sony’s poetic “Be Moved” campaign supports its more prosaic mission: being “a company that inspires and fulfills your curiosity.” To deliver that promise to its consumer businesses, starting in October 2015, CEO Kazuo Hirai will oversee continued streamlining and the restructuring of key areas it has identified as growth drivers for the next three years: Devices, Game & Network Services, Pictures, and
Music. With a plan to introduce greater accountability and profitability, the goal is to boost income to USD $4.2 billion by 2018. Hirai will also directly influence the brand strategy as Sony defines its value to the consumers of tomorrow.
Sony’s new mission has ushered in a return to its roots: The intention of using technology to contribute to Japanese culture through technology and a spirit of “doing what has never been done before.” With this spirit in mind, it launched First Flight, a Japanese-only crowdfunding website that is an extension of its Seed Acceleration Program. As well, its New Business Creation department now holds “idea auctions” every three months.
Earlier in the year, Sony made headlines not only with the refashioning of the iconic Walkman, but also with plans to spin it and audio devices into a separate company. The product—now positioned as a premium product and targeted at audiophiles—sells for around USD $1,200. With the creation of a separate company for such devices, it is apparent that Sony plans to create greater accountability, focus, and freedom.
But it’s the PlayStation 4 (PS4) that’s proving to be Sony’s 2015 success story. It’s on course to outsell the celebrated PS2, and the gaming division turned a healthy profit. Now with a dedicated ecosystem of cloud-based games (PlayStation Now), TV (PlayStation Vue), and music (Spotify on PlayStation Music), along with a virtual reality headset in the pipeline (Project Morpheus), the PS4 will offer more. Connecting these services to the console positions the brand to own a greater share of consumers’ entertainment choices.