TOKYO– Nobuyuki Idei, who led Japan’s Sony from 1998 to 2005 and led its growth in the digital and entertainment business, has died, the company said on Tuesday. He was 84 years old.
Idey died of liver failure on June 2 in Tokyo, Sony Group Corp. says in the statement.
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said he and the company owe it to Ideas in terms of preparing Sony for the Internet age.
“In his seven years as CEO since 1998, Mr. Idey has made a huge contribution to the development of Sony as a global company. In particular, I am still amazed by the insight and vision with which he predicted the impact of the Internet and actively engaged in digitalization at Sony,” he said.
Tokyo-based Sony is one of Japan’s star brands with the introduction of the Walkman portable music player to the world. But it had humble beginnings in the 1940s, when the country was rebuilding from the ashes of World War II.
Sony was founded by Akio Morita, co-author of The Japan That Can Say No, which advocated a more assertive and proud Japan, and Masaru Ibuka. In the 1970s, when Sony was developing the Walkman, some engineers were skeptical. But Morita insisted that people listen to music on the go.
Idei joined Sony in 1960 after graduating from Tokyo’s prestigious Waseda University and worked in its audio and video departments.
He was named president in 1995 and is credited with creating such popular products as the Vaio laptop.
Three years later, he became chief executive and was chosen by Norio Oga, who ran Sony in the 1980s and 1990s and was a flamboyant music lover who played a key role in the development of the company’s CDs.
Idey promoted Sony’s digital operations under the slogan “Digital Dream Kids”. It also accelerated Sony’s global expansion, including the PlayStation video game business, and Sony’s expanding entertainment empire to include music and films.
Idey also strengthened the group’s global management structure and the company’s corporate governance structure. In 2000, he was appointed head of the Japanese government’s IT strategy board, helping the country build broadband networks.
He was succeeded by Howard Stringer, the first non-Japanese to lead Sony, which was to improve the integration of Sony’s electronics and entertainment business.
That shake-up in 2005 came at a time when concerns were growing about whether Sony could revive electronics manufacturing in the face of cheaper competition from Asian competitors. Sales of products that were once Sony’s mainstays, such as televisions and portable players, have diverged.
In 2003, under the leadership of Eden, Sony’s stock plummeted in what was called the “Sony shock” after the company reported worse-than-expected red ink.
Sony has repeatedly promised to make a profit from futuristic gadgets downloading entertainment for the connected home, allowing the company to use both its electronics and entertainment divisions.
“The Sony shock was a shock for us as well,” Idey said at the time. “We want to turn the shock into something positive.”
After leaving Sony, Idey founded the consulting company Quantum Leaps Corp. who were focused on reorganizing companies and nurturing a new generation of leaders.
According to Sony, Idea is survived by his wife and daughter. It states that a private funeral service was held with immediate family members, with a corporate memorial event in his honor scheduled for a later date.
Yuri Kageyama on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama