GamesBeat

Howard Stringer retires after overseeing rocky period for Sony and PlayStation

Former Sony chief executive officer Howard Stringer announced he will step down from his position as chairman and retire in June, according to Games Industry International.

This ends a 16-year period that Stringer spent with Sony.

The British businessman started his career as a journalist at CBS. He moved up the ranks and spent the last seven of his 30 years with the network as its president. He left CBS in 1995 to start TELE-TV, a set-top-box company that developed an interactive television service.

He left TELE-TV in 1997 to begin working with Sony as president of its U.S. operations.

In June 2005, Sony named Stringer its CEO and chairman. Sony launched the PlayStation 3 during the following year against strong competition from Nintendo’s novel Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which had a year head start.

Despite the PlayStation 2’s success, PlayStation 3 struggled to justify its $499 and $599 price tags to early consumers. Not only that, but developers struggled with PS3’s complicated architecture and most cross-platform games looked and played better on Microsoft’s console until about 2009.

In April 2011, hackers breached Sony’s PlayStation Network and stole millions of user’s data and credit-card information. Sony waited a week before telling users. Stringer didn’t get a handle on the public-relation disaster until he released an open letter in May 2011.

Since these struggles, the PS3 has found worldwide success comparable to the Xbox 360, but only after several price cuts that dug into profits. The early PS3 models cost an estimated $800 to $840 to manufacture, so even at the $499 and $599, the system cost Sony money to sell. The eventual “slim” redesigns helped alleviate that issue.

In 2009, Sony replaced company president Ryoji Chubachi with Stringer. The executive used this time to initiate a company-wide restructuring with the purpose of bringing Sony’s varying divisions closer together.

One of the results of a closer-knit Sony was an intense focus on 3D technology throughout 2010 and 2011. Sony attempted to leverage the PlayStation brand by combining the promise of 3D games on its 3D televisions.

Today, Sony’s effort to promote 3D is seen as a failure. By 2012, the company had ceased actively talking about 3D in its games or televisions.

In April 2012, Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Kazuo Hirai, who had overseen the PlayStation brand, replaced Stringer as CEO and president. Stringer also stepped down as chairman of Sony and took up the position as Sony’s chairman of the board.


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