TOKYO -- Sony tapped one of Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai's top deputies to run its newly-formed cell phone business, a key facet of the company's efforts to regain its footing in the consumer electronics industry.
Sony picked Kunimasa Suzuki, who oversees planning and design for all of Sony's consumer products and services, to become president and CEO of Sony Mobile Communications, which was created this year after the Japanese electronics maker bought out former joint venture partner Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson of Sweden.
Suzuki replaces current CEO Bert Nordberg, who will become chairman of Sony Mobile. The changes will take place May 16.
After forming the joint venture with Ericsson a decade earlier, Sony paid €1.05 billion ($1.38 billion) to take full control of the cell phone business this year. Sony started to see its lack of control over its cell phone operations as one of its weaknesses in competing against Apple and Samsung Electronics.
The acquisition allowed Sony to pursue a unified "four screens" strategy -- targeting smartphones, tablets, personal computers (PCs) and televisions. Suzuki, who already oversees the PC and tablet businesses for Sony, also is the head of a new division formed by Hirai to create a common look and feel for Sony products.
While Hirai is focused on halting the losses at Sony's struggling television business and streamlining the company's operations, Suzuki will be counted on to deliver growth by upgrading the company's lineup of smartphones and tablets -- two of the fastest-growing segments within the electronics industry.
Under Nordberg, Sony Ericsson shifted its lineup from feature phones to smartphones. The company also adopted Google's Android platform for its smartphones, with little success so far. Sony Ericsson accounted for just 1.8 percent of the market last year, according to research firm Gartner.
Suzuki, who will be based in Lund, southern Sweden, and Tokyo, will strive to halt losses at the cell phone business.
In its final year of operation as Sony Ericsson, the venture posted a net loss of €247 million, citing intense competition that pushed down prices.
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