Sony Joins Reorganization Parade

sony reorgIn a February 2007 interview for the PBS series CEO Exchange (PDF) Sony’s CEO Sir Howard Stringer said one of the first jobs he had to do at Sony was “reach out and get people to collaborate with each other.”  Sony was too vertically integrated, he said. He had to break up the vertical “silos” to better serve the increasingly digital world.  It’s two years removed from those remarks but Stringer is finally getting some of the changes he sought.

Following Yahoo’s restructuring announcement yesterday, Sony announced a major reorganization of its own today.    Effective April 1st,  there will be two new business groups and a reworked organization chart. 

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Musical Chairs: Bartz Reorganizes Yahoo

yhoo org chairsIncoming CEOs invariably build their own teams, it’s just a matter of time.  John Riccitiello did some housekeeping when he rejoined Electronic Arts, and Carol Bartz was certain to do it at Yahoo.   Thursday, after six weeks of “being in student mode” and “slowly getting smarter about what makes [the] place tick,” she announced her sweeping changes.

CFO Blake Jorgensen is out.  He’s tendered his resignation but will stay on until a replacement is found.    

CTO Ari Balogh will keep his title and also take the added moniker of EVP of Products.  In the combined roll, he will be at the helm of a newly created “Products” group responsible for all of the “vision, strategy, and quality of every product [Yahoo creates] regardless of region, device format or category.” 

yhoo org chart thumbnailProgramming, partnerships and sales will be handled by two groups, distinguished by region.  The North American side will fall to the charge of Hilary Schneider, EVP, North American Region.  Among her tasks, the onetime CEO of Knight Ridder Digital and Red Herring will also oversee Yahoo’s global mobile initiatives. (David Ko, working under Schneider, will be the lead for Yahoo’s mobile business, strategy and monetization teams.  He’ll replace a departing Marco Boerries).   The International Group’s head is yet to be determined.

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How Long is the Blu-ray Runway

bd sales up metueA year removed from vanquishing HD DVD, Blu-ray DVDs are finally getting some retail respect.  At least, so says a forecast from market research firm FutureSource Consulting.  The UK based firm released a prediction (PDF) this week saying consumers will buy more than 100m high definition Blu-ray discs across the U.S., Western Europe and Japan in 2009.  The company expects 80 million units to sell in the U.S. alone.

A large part of the growth is attributed to decreasing prices for both Blu-ray hardware and the discs themselves.  Another lesser reason, FutureSource explains, was preparatory overproduction in 2008.  To “fill the channel” and “enable retailers to build their in-store displays,” the industry produced more than 200m discs in 2008 despite only selling 36m.   Retailers are now ready for a more aggressive sales push.

future source chartBlu-ray “has moved from early adopter phase through to early majority” in the U.S., said Mai Hoang, a sr. analyst at FutureSource.   The company predicts by 2012, 50% of U.S. DVD sales will be Blu-ray.

Some critics are skeptical of these near term numbers. They think the economy – both by pinching consumer spending and by restraining the funds available for big budget movie production – will slow Blu-ray’s adoption.

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Competitors Cooperative: Microsoft Creates Advertising Council

msft pub councilLong before the word frenemy hit the buzzword bingo board, the proverb of complex relations was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  In the increasingly tangled melting pot that is online media and advertising, the sentiment is as true now  as ever.   Today, competitors are often cooperative colleagues at the same time.  Proof: rivals Fox (News Corp) and NBC/Universal jointly developed popular web video portal Hulu despite otherwise battling each other for prime time TV audiences.  More proof: Microsoft is drawing competitors together to guide the development of its newest ad management tool, Pub Center. 

Using the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual meeting as a launching platform, Microsoft announced a Publisher Leadership Council on Monday.  The group joins together rivals including Dow Jones Online and the New York Times, as well as Time Inc., Viacom and IAC/Interactive.  Normally, these companies compete aggressively with each other for ad dollars and audiences online.

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Chernin Leaving News Corp: Details and Departure Memos

chernin news corpAs the President, COO and number two executive at News Corp for the last twelve years, Peter Chernin has long been counted among the most powerful men in the media industry but his position has always had a footnote.  Unlike other executives in similar roles, outsiders have rarely considered Chernin a likely candidate to ascend to the company’s CEO throne.  The honor of one day leading News Corp, though ultimately a board decision, has generally been assumed reserved for one of Rupert Murdoch’s sons.   This lack of upward mobility has fueled consistent rumors about Chernin’s eventual departure. Today, they’re now fact.

Reports are confirmed that when Chernin’s five year old employment contract expires June 30th, it won’t be renewed.  Both Chernin and Murdoch have issued memos to staff making the announcement.  (The letters are reprinted below in their entirety as is the company’s description of his employment agreement).

Chernin joined News Corp in 1989.  After heading up Fox Broadcasting and Twentieth Century Fox, he became President and COO in 1996.

After twenty years at the company, Chernin characterized his decision as a difficult one saying ultimately that he’s “ready for new entrepreneurial challenges.”

Murdoch in a long memo to staff (see below) acknowledged Chernin’s service and hinted a management restructuring will likely follow to streamline reporting between the company’s LA based businesses (Fox) and the rest of its operations.  Calling Chernin a “close colleague and an ally,” and deeming his contributions “immeasurable,”  Murdoch said “now is also an ideal opportunity to streamline and enhance many of the corporate and administrative functions of the business.”

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Nintendo DSi Set for April US Launch

nintendo dsiNot that Nintendo needs any help, the company’s already dominating its competition in the US, but an added boost is due this spring.  Nintendo announced Wednesday that the third generation of their popular Dual Screen (DS) portable will come stateside on April 5th.

Available in Japan Since November, the DSi expands on its predecessor with the addition of two cameras (one outward facing and one facing the user), enhanced audio /MP3 functionality and a dedicated SD Card memory slot to help support WiFi delivered downloadable content or facilitate music and photo storage. The DSi also features upgradeable firmware.

Fitting squarely into Nintendo’s proven strategy of reaching as wide an audience as possible, the DSi is a device tailor made for mass appeal.  The twin cameras  open the door to new types of interactive game play while at the same they time bring photo manipulation tools otherwise unseen in gaming devices.  Photo albums can be created, stored and shared. Images can be stretched, shifted, cut out or colored in.

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Mobile Short Takes: HTC Reveals 2nd G-Phone, Yahoo Repackaging Mobile Apps

htc magic composite metueIn September, the HTC Dream, the first phone built around Google’s Android O.S. was introduced to the market with all the fanfare of a new smartphone aiming for a share of the iPhone’s spotlight.  Tuesday, like pictures of a celebrity newborn, the G-Phone’s sibling was revealed.

HTC, together with Vodaphone, showed their Magic.  The new phone will offer a 3.2” touch screen, a higher capacity battery and a 3.2 mega pixel camera to European customers waiting on an Android based phone. Unlike the Dream, the Magic will not feature a slide out keyboard to compliment its touch screen.  (A side by side feature comparison of the two HTC Android phones is available below).

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