Sony (SNE) CEO Tries To Fire Up Management

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Sir Howard Stinger, head of Sony (SNE), believes that his executive ranks lack passion. Perhaps they have spent too much time as engineers, or the string of bad years at the consumer electronics company has caught up with them

According to The Wall Street Journal, "I’m asking you to get mad," Mr. Stringer said in one of his most strongly worded speeches. He did not make it clear whether that meant "mad" as in aggressive or "mad" as in insane.

Getting thrilled by Sony’s prospects may be hard, even for the people who work there. The company has given up most of its consumer electronics lead to Apple (AAPL). Jobs not only has the Mac and the iPod. He has the remarkably successful iPhone. Sony was not able to make a go of the handset business so they merged that operation with Ericsson (ERIC).

Over at the Playstation division, the group has been beaten like a rented mule by both Nintendo and Microsoft (MSFT). The new PS3 may sell well, but its will not regain Sony’s lost glory in the category.

Sony does well in making TVs and digital cameras, but those are not enough of a foundation for rebuilding the company. The firm’s studio operation has lots of competition for movie companies owned by mega-media companies like Viacom (VIA) and Time Warner (TWX). Making blockbusters becomes more risky each year as costs rise.

Sony is stuck in the middle of the consumer electronics and media pack and is not likely to break out of that position.

Douglas A. McIntyre