Personal Tech Pipeline | Sony Kills Robot Business
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January 27, 2006

Sony Kills Robot Business

Courtesy of EE Times

TOKYO — Sony Corp. will withdraw from the entertainment robot business as a part of its restructuring plan.

Sony reported a business recovery in its third quarter, and revised upward its annual forecast by ¥100 billion ($858 million) for operating profit and ¥70 billion ($600 million) for net profit. It previously projected a ¥20 billion ($172 million) operating loss and ¥10 billion ($86 million) net loss.

Sony also announced a restructuring plan. Ryoji Chubachi, who became Sony's president last April, said last September that 15 business operations would be reviewed, including robot development.

Sony announced action plans for nine business operations this week, including plans to close its entertainment robot business. Production of its Aibo series will end later this year. Development activity had been already terminated.

Humanoid robot development will also be terminated, while related artificial intelligence technology will be transferred to Sony's consumer electronics products. AI technology development will continue at company laboratories, a Sony spokesman said. Tadatoshi Doi, who launched Sony's robot development, now heads Sony Intelligence Dynamics Laboratories.

Sony's electronics business unit recovered sharply in the last quarter, largely driven by sales of new Bravia TVs. In its third quarter, Sony's electronics sales totaled ¥1.59 trillion ($13.7 billion), a 4.7-percent jump from a year ago. Operating profits were up 56.2 percent to ¥79 billion ($678 million).

Third quarter income totaled ¥2.3 trillion yen ($20 billion), up 10.2 percent from the same period last year. Operating profit jumped 46.8 percent year-on-year to ¥203 billion ($1.7 billion). Net profit rose 17.5 percent to ¥169 billion ($1.5 billion).

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