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[February 22, 2014]
Sony struggling despite success of PlayStation 4 [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) TOKYO - PlayStation stands out among the long list of famous Sony brands as one that hasn't faded or succumbed to a nimbler competitor. Months after hitting global markets, the latest version of the video-game console went on sale Saturday in Tokyo, a big shift from times when Sony was ascendant enough to launch flagship products in Japan first.
With much riding on the PS4's success, the commercial advantages of targeting overseas markets outweighed the sentimental pull of a hometown launch.
The PS4, Sony's first video-game console in seven years, went on sale in the U.S. and Europe in November.
Sony officials said more time was needed to prepare game software attractive for Japanese, but analysts say Japan wasn't a priority for Sony.
The PS4 has proved a hit so far, selling 4.2 million units worldwide last year, outpacing rival Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox One at 3 million.
But analysts say Sony, headed to a 110 billion yen ($1.08 billion) loss for the fiscal year ending in March, needs more than a successful game console to reverse its dimming fortunes. Its share price is today just one third of its 2008 value.
Sony is cutting its global workforce by about 3 percent or 5,000 people by the end of March 2015, as it restructures its PC, television and other businesses. Some 3,500 of the job losses will be overseas and 1,500 in Japan. That comes on top of the 10,000 jobs cuts Sony announced over the previous year.
"I am just not sure anymore if there is anything Sony makes that can be counted on to produce growth," said Motohisa Ohno, a technology expert. Ohno, underlining a common sentiment, said the trick is to create a product that pioneers a new market, the way Sony's Walkman music player did when it first came out.
In recent years, out of Sony's long list of well-known brands - Walkman, Vaio, Bravia, Cyber-shot, Handycam, Aibo - only PlayStation has managed to hold its edge. Its share price is today just one third of its 2008 value.
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