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Sony banking on PlayStation to boost profits

Plans for division to increase sales by 25% as TV and mobile arms are reined in

Sony has reiterated its corporate focus on the PlayStation business in comments to investors which also revealed plans to pare down both the ailing TV and mobile arms of its operations.

Speaking to an investment conference, as reported by Reuters, executives talked of the need to increase margins rather than market share for its struggling Xperia and Bravia product lines, expecting to wring profits from tumbling sales that could slip by 30 per cent.

"We're not aiming for size or market share but better profits," said Hiroki Totoki, who was recently awarded the somewhat poisoned chalice of heading up the corporation's mobile business. Sony Mobile has failed to make any great impression on the figures or bottom lines of Apple, HTC or Samsung despite a round of well-reviewed mobile hardware and the TV business, despite benefiting from a less arduous exchange rate recently, still finds itself under insurmountable pressure from the Korean panel manufacturers which supply many of its rivals.

PlayStation, however, is enjoying its time in the sun, with company expectations high thanks to the unexpectedly successful global launch of the PS4. With cash rolling in to a division which had endured great hardship so recently, the games wing is perhaps seen as something of a figurehead for recovery and renewal. That optimism carries some burdens, however. Executives expect PlayStation to increase revenues by around a quarter to 1.6 trillion yen ($13.6 bn), which they say should be assisted by PlayStation-native non-gaming applications such as personal video and music streams - a clear opportunity for Sony to practice its vertical integration.

With an estimated install base of around 11-13 million, PS4 has come out of the blocks quicker than any other console the company, or indeed anybody else, has produced, but Microsoft is back on its feet after a first round knockdown and is showing great tenacity in its fight back. Nonetheless, with that many customers in place and hungry for services, Sony is in a tremendous position to start monetising its user base with native services. Alongside new TV, film and music offerings, PlayStation Now is likely to boost profits once it emerges from beta - although offsetting the considerable investment in the acquisition of Gaikai is likely to take some time.

Also in the spotlight, and perhaps operating under even greater expectations, is Sony's devices department, or more specifically its image sensor unit, which provides sensors for digital cameras and mobile phone. That unit is expected to raise sales by a monumental 70 per cent to a massive 1.5 trillion Yen ($12.75bn).

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