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Sony CEO says PlayStation Vita sales ‘trending behind’ in some regions

President and CEO of Sony Corporation Kazuo Hirai addresses a news conference before the start of the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, August 29, 2012. The IFA consumer electronics and home appliances fair will open its doors to the public from August 31 till September 5 in the German capital.


Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said on Thursday that its new gaming device Vita was mostly selling in line with its expectations, though in some places it was off the pace.

Vita hit the stores earlier this year, the latest in a line of mobile gaming gadgets in the spirit of Nintendo's Game Boy and Atari's Lynx, but some analysts have questioned whether there is room for such a device in a market increasingly dominated by games played on smart phones and tablets.

"Worldwide, the Vita is pretty much along where we would expect it to be, maybe trending behind in certain territories," Mr. Hirai told Reuters on the sidelines of IFA, Europe's biggest consumer trade show, held in Berlin.

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He declined to disclose where sales were lagging.

When he took the helm at Sony in April, Mr. Hirai vowed to revive the fortunes of the company, maker of the Walkman music player and PlayStation games console, after years of competition from foreign rivals had broken its dominance in consumer electronics.

Part of the plan is betting Sony's future on mobile devices such as the Xperia smart phone, gaming and digital imaging, while developing new businesses, including a medical unit.

In Berlin Sony launched three smart phones and one tablet, all powered by Google's Android platform, saying patent challenges facing the software platform had not affected its business.

Sony Mobile chief Kunimasa Suzuki told Reuters he was confident of selling more smart phones in fiscal year 2012-2013 than the 34 million it shifted in the previous year.

After Sony returned a record net loss of $5.8-billion for the last fiscal year to March 31, Mr. Hirai promised 10,000 job cuts and big cost reductions in the TV unit, which has clocked losses of about $12-billion in the past decade.

Mr. Hirai said the group was ahead of plan to return the TV business to the black. "This fiscal year we will halve our losses from what we made last year. We are ahead of track."

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Sony is also in talks with several companies who could be interested in its chemicals business, Mr. Hirai said. The unit makes material used in consumer electronic products and employs several thousand people. He declined to elaborate.

As for other Japanese exporters, the strength of the yen weighs on Sony's results. The currency has become a safe-haven destination for many investors as debt concerns undermine confidence in both the euro and the dollar.

"The currencies are a real pain," Mr. Hirai said. We can complain about that, but it is the reality we have to face."

Since Sony's European sales account for a fifth of all revenue, compared with a tenth at both Panasonic Corp. and Sharp, it is particularly sensitive to currency swings against the euro.

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