Vita hit the stores earlier this year, the latest in a line of mobile gaming gadgets in the spirit of Nintendo‘s Game Boy and Atari‘s Lynx, but some analysts have questioned whether there is room for such a device in a market increasingly dominated by games played on smartphones and tablets.
“Worldwide, the Vita is pretty much along where we would expect it to be, maybe trending behind in certain territories,” Hirai told Reuters on the sidelines of IFA, Europe’s biggest consumer trade show, held in Berlin.
He declined to disclose where sales were lagging.
When he took the helm at Sony in April, Hirai vowed to revive the fortunes of the company, maker of the Walkman music player and PlayStation games console, after years of competition from foreign rivals had broken its dominance in consumer electronics.
Part of the plan is betting Sony’s future on mobile devices such as the Xperia smartphone, gaming and digital imaging, while developing new businesses, including a medical unit.
In Berlin Sony launched three smartphones and one tablet, all powered by Google’s Android platform, saying patent challenges facing the software platform had not affected its business.
Sony Mobile chief Kunimasa Suzuki told Reuters he was confident of selling more smartphones in fiscal year 2012-2013 than the 34 million it shifted in the previous year.
After Sony returned a record net loss of 455 billion yen ($5.8 billion) for the last fiscal year to March 31, Hirai promised 10,000 job cuts and big cost reductions in the TV unit, which has clocked up losses of about $12 billion in the past decade.
Hirai said the group was ahead of plan to return the TV business to the black. “This fiscal year we will halve our losses from what we made last year. We are ahead of track.”
Sony is also in talks with several companies who could be interested in its chemicals business, Hirai said. The unit makes material used in consumer electronic products and employs several thousand people. He declined to elaborate.
As for other Japanese exporters, the strength of the yen weighs on Sony’s results. The currency has become a safe-haven destination for many investors as debt concerns undermine confidence in both the euro and the dollar.
“The currencies are a real pain,” Hirai said. We can complain about that, but it is the reality we have to face.”