Sony upbeat on games and robots but cuts outlook for image sensors

Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:24am EDT
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By Makiko Yamazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) on Wednesday lifted the sales target for its games division next year on hopes for its new virtual reality headset, and said it would re-enter robots a decade after it last abandoned the business.

But the electronics giant cut its outlook for image sensor sales amid slowing demand for smartphones, and maintained its operating profit target of 500 billion yen ($4.9 billion) for the year beginning April.

The announcement comes as company watchers bank on sensors to continue driving Sony's revival after years of struggle.

While the sensor slowdown is likely to disappoint, investors can take comfort in the unchanged profit target, which highlights Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai is keeping to a recovery track and has not given up on new technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Hirai at a news conference said the games business was set to be Sony's biggest growth driver, helped by strong console sales, a rise in subscribers to its PlayStation network and the launch of its virtual reality headset.

The headset will be sold from October for $399, versus the $599 of a rival product from Facebook Inc's (FB.O: Quote) Oculus Rift.

"It's an area where Sony can leverage its expertise in cameras, filming, content production as well as entertainment assets," Hirai said, lifting the division's sales target range to 1.8 trillion to 1.9 trillion yen ($17.6 billion to $18.6 billion) from 1.4 trillion to 1.6 trillion yen.

He also confirmed Sony aimed to introduce a robot "capable of forming an emotional bond".   Continued...

Sony Corp's President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai attends its corporate strategy meeting at the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan June 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai