New Sony CEO had to axe three iPad rival projects

Sony under Hirai likely to make major cuts

A profile of Sony's soon-to-be CEO Kaz Hirai has revealed that he may have been instrumental to getting a credible iPad rival into the market. The Wall Street Journal look showed that, under Sony's traditional structure of independently operating divisions, four different segments of the company were developing their own tablets. The User Experience group, formed while Hirai was an executive deputy to Sir Howard Stringer, culled all but one project and started focusing on the speed optimizations and PlayStation Suite support that would define the Tablet S.

The company had long had a reputation for creating 'silos,' or divisions that operated in isolation from each other. Aside from creating a disunited front, it sometimes led to segments being actively jealous of each other and refusing to collaborate. Walkman and home theater groups, for example, didn't get the cooperation from Sony's own music and movie groups to make digital media stores.

The Tablet S has had tepid sales but has been one of the better-received Android tablets in a market still led mostly by the iPad. Along with being more responsive than most Android slates, it can remote-control a TV or home theater.

Hirai has and will present a more absolutist structure like that at a rival such as Apple, where management dictates the overall strategy and divisions are there to make that vision real.

The former PlayStation head has developed a reputation for cost-cutting, which will be necessary at a company expected to post a more than $1.7 billion loss for 2011. He turned the PS3 builder from a $2 billion loss to a profit-making group. His decisions along with Stringer's led to dropping a Samsung TV partnership after it became clear that TV displays were now more expensive to make in the agreement than just to buy from numerous part suppliers, and TV sales targets were cut in half to about 20 million for the year to avoid overspending.

Full results for Sony are expected later today.

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