Sony intends to launch a competitor to the Apple iPad, the touch-screen tablet computer that has become the talk of the technology community.
“Sony is very much interested in this segment of the market and we have [the] necessary technology,” Nobuyuki Oneda, Sony chief financial officer, said on Thursday in a call with analysts, without giving any details.
He indicated that no product launch was imminent and acknowledged that its US rival had stolen a lead. “There is no denying that we are running a bit behind, though,” Mr Oneda added. Apple launched its iPad tablet PC last week and stirred the debate about the potential for the new segment.
Sony has faced criticism in recent years for losing its technological edge in key consumer segments. The Japanese electronics company failed to take advantage of the rise of the MP3 music player, losing the lead its Walkman products had in the portable music market. It similarly lost its top position in game consoles to Nintendo’s Wii.
Mr Oneda’s comments came as Sony reported its first quarterly profit in more than a year. In the third quarter, every division made money at the operating level except its share of the Sony Ericsson mobile phone joint venture.
Sony on Thursday revealed the impact of its restructuring programme when Japan’s leading electronics brand cut its forecast loss for the year to March 2010 after a strong Christmas quarter.
The group said it now expected to make a net loss of Y70bn ($782m), down from its October forecast of a Y95bn loss. Excluding restructuring costs and losses at affiliates, Sony expects to make a full-year operating profit of Y140bn, up from its previous forecast of Y110bn.
The results appeared to vindicate the aggressive programme of job cuts, factory closures and internal restructuring launched a year ago by Sir Howard Stringer, chairman and chief executive.
Sony is cutting its number of manufacturing sites from 57 in December 2008 to 45 by May 2010.
While sales of Sony’s core consumer devices were down by more than 10 per cent on the previous year, costs were Y77bn lower, so the division swung back into profit.
The networked products and services division made a profit because of increased sales of Vaio PCs but PlayStation video games continued to struggle. Sales of 6.5m PS3 consoles in the quarter, up from 4.5m last year, could not offset a price cut on the PS3 and weak sales of the PlayStation Portable.
Sales at Sony Pictures were up by 16 per cent on the previous year due to the success of 2012 and the Michael Jackson film This Is It.