* Sees televisions as core business
* Does not plan to cut price of Playstation Vita
* Seeks to pull together plans to overhaul TV division
(Adds details, background)
By Reiji Murai
TOKYO, Aug 4 Sony is not planning to
dump its television business, which is heading for its eighth
straight year of losses, even as it looks to pull together plans
this month to overhaul the division.
The electronics and entertainment conglomerate will consider
new partnerships as part of the review, second-in-command Kazuo
Hirai told a group of reporters on Thursday.
"Televisions are a core business for Sony and it would be
unthinkable for us to shrink that business," executive deputy
president Hirai said at the company's Tokyo head office.
Sony, which sells products ranging from PlayStation game
consoles to life insurance, is struggling to compete with
Samsung Electronics and other lower-cost Asian
rivals. Rival Panasonic Corp has also warned of weak TV
sales, especially in the United States and Europe.
Sony has already sold off TV factories in Spain, Slovakia
and Mexico in the past few years and outsources more than half
of production to companies including Hon Hai Precision Industry.
It retains four TV plants of its own, in Japan, Brazil, China
"They have done an awful lot already, and this was the time
when that effort was supposed to come to fruition," said Shiro
Mikoshiba, an analyst at Nomura Securities. "It's honestly hard
to know what else they could do."
In games, Hirai said Sony would not be forced to cut the
price of its new handheld gadget, PlayStation Vita, after the
flop of Nintendo's 3DS forced Nintendo to slash its
"There's no need to lower the price, just because someone
else that happens to be in the videogame business decided that
they were going to," Hirai said, according to a Sony spokesman
who confirmed the content of a separate group interview not
attended by Reuters.
Former games division chief Hirai took the helm of Sony's
consumer businesses in April and is seen as the most likely
candidate to succeed British-born Howard Stringer as chief
But the 50-year-old faces the challenge of steering a once
iconic technology company now outmanoeuvred in tablets and
smartphones by Apple Inc .
Sony has said it would pull together plans to overhaul its
TV business this month, and last week it cut its annual TV sales
forecast while warning that losses on TVs could widen this year.
Hirai said it was too soon to tell when the TV unit would be
profitable, though the company aims to turn it around as soon as
Asked about the partnership with Samsung in LCD panels,
Hirai said: "We are absolutely not thinking of abolishing the
joint venture, and it's not something that would be easy to do."
Speculation has swirled that Sony could look to buying
Ericsson out of their mobile phone joint venture, but Hirai said
only that there were "various discussions" about the
The PS Vita will go on sale in Japan by the end of the year
and in North America and Europe early next year, Hirai said,
missing the key pre-Christmas shopping season.
But Nomura's Mikoshiba said neither the price nor the timing
of the launch were likely to be major problems.
"Sony basically sells to core gamers and they will spend any
amount on games," he said.
(Additional reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Sinead Cruise;
Editing by Anshuman Daga and Edmund Klamann)