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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sony Banks on Young Engineers

TOKYO -- Howard Stringer, the first foreigner to head Sony, said Monday that the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's turnaround effort was centered on tapping younger software engineers to boost product development.

The move is expected to strengthen product offerings because younger engineers are more familiar with the digital age and because software development is becoming more important for gadgets, Stringer told reporters in Tokyo.

The announcement comes as Stringer, a Welsh-born American who took the helm as chief executive and chairman a year ago, searches for new ways to turn around the struggling manufacturer.

"We need to marry software engineers to product designers at the beginning of the creation of new products," he said, while acknowledging that combining ideas for software with gadgets was still in the early stages. He declined to give specifics.

"That's a process. That's something that's ongoing," he said.

Stringer also said that plans to revive Sony toward growth were on track, including cost cuts and wiping out unprofitable businesses.

Tokyo-based Sony, known worldwide for the Walkman portable music player and PlayStation video-game machine, has been battered in recent years by plunging electronics prices and competition from rivals. In the January-March quarter, its losses widened to 66.5 billion yen ($578 million), from a 56.5 billion yen loss a year ago.

Last year, Sony announced broad costs reductions, including job cuts, plant closures and dropping money-losing units. It has decided to focus on key products to achieve growth, such as high-definition televisions, digital content and the next-generation computer chip called "cell."

Its big challenge is to stop losing money in its core electronics business.

Sony president Ryoji Chubachi, who heads the company's core electronics operations, said some Sony workers had criticized his push to answer customer needs, adding Sony should live up to its innovative reputation and instead go several steps ahead of the customer's thinking.

"But it's the customer who should decide if a technology is fantastic or not," he said, sitting next to Stringer. "We had become self-indulgent in growing smug in our technological powers."