Sony Corporation announced Thursday that Hiroki Totoki has been appointed as the new head of Sony Mobile Communications, a change that comes amid Sony’s struggling smartphone business. Totoki will replace Kunimasa Suzuki, who will shift into the role of vice president of Sony Entertainment.
Totoki, the former head of Sony Bank, the financial arm of the Tokyo-based company, will take control of the mobile division on Nov. 17. The change was made after Sony posted a net profit in the April-June quarter, thanks primarily to its financial and video game sectors. Sony’s smartphone business was unprofitable during those months.
Lagging sales for Sony’s Xperia smartphone has prompted layoffs that could continue on Friday, when Sony is expected to announce smartphone earnings that again will fall below the company’s expectations. Sony said in July that it expected to sell a mere 43 million smartphones during 2014, not the 50 million forecast previously. Samsung, by comparison, shipped 74.3 million phones in the second quarter of 2014 alone, while Apple shipped 35.1 million.
“In light of the global mobile market that is rapidly becoming competitive and difficult, we need to make our business profitable,” a Sony spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal. “Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai judged Mr. Totoki, who has a proven track record in turning the business profitable, is the most suited for the job.”
Disappointing smartphone sales are a primary reason why as many as 1,000 jobs could be cut from Sony’s mobile division -- that’s 15 percent of the workforce -- the Journal reported.
“I am deeply sorry for the shareholders, and I, as a president, am taking this situation very seriously,” CEO Hirai said last month.