TOKYO Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) announced a management shakeup effective Friday (Dec. 1), moving Ken Kutaragi to chairman and promoting Kaz Hirai, former president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, as president and COO. Kutaragi will continue as acting as Group CEO.
David Reeves, currently president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, was also appointed to a SCEI board member.
"With Mr. Hirai from the United States and Mr. Reeves from Europe, SCEI intends to reinforce its overseas business, which should be Mr. Kutaragi's intention," said Hirokazu Hamamura, president of Enterbrain Inc., a game market researcher based here.
Still, some industry sources said the management change reflects Sony's intention to have more control over its game unit by clipping Kutaragi's wings.
Kutaragi created the Playstation business. Though it was within Sony, Kataragi has been running it relatively independent from headquarters business strategy. The game business has grown into a mainstay for Sony, accounting for 13 percent of its total sales last year.
"By appointing Hirai to COO, and entrusting him with day-to-day business, Mr. Kutaragi will be able to focus more on building strategies for the business," a spokeswoman said. "For a company with a scale of 4,000 employees and nearly ¥1 trillion (about $8.6 billion) in sales, SCEI needed to reinforce the management team," she said.
PS3 was introduced on Nov. 11 in Japan. Enterbrain estimates that sales in the first week totaled 88,000 units here. Sony "said that it would ship 1 million units in Japan by the end of this year. At the present pace, that's a tall target," Hamamura said.