Former Sony chairman Idei dies

Idei Nobuyuki, a former head of Japanese electronics giant Sony, has died. He was 84.

Idei joined Sony in 1960. He became its president in 1995. In an unprecedented move, he was chosen over 14 of his superiors.

Idei saw the potential of the Internet early on. He championed the slogan "Digital Dream Kids," and shifted Sony's core business from making TVs and audio equipment to information technology.

Idei integrated software, such as movies and music, with TVs and other hardware. He led Sony's re-entry into the PC business with VAIO brand laptops, and actively promoted other digital-related businesses.

Idei served as the company's president, CEO and chairman. He was at the helm of Sony's management for a decade.

He also took on corporate governance reform, and was one of the first managers to appoint executive officers.

But Sony's mainstay business faced challenges. The company was too slow to shift to flat screen TVs, and its mobile music players, made popular by the Walkman brand, fell behind Apple's.

Its stock plunge in 2003, due to poor earnings, was dubbed the "Sony Shock."

The company's performance remained sluggish, and Idei resigned as chairman in 2005.

Idei was known for his global ties. He mingled with foreign politicians and business leaders at the Davos conference and other international meetings. He also created a sweeping network that included a number of US and European managers.

He served as outside director at the US automaker General Motors.

Idei headed the Japanese government's council on IT strategies, and served as vice chair of the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanren, for four years starting in 2003.

He recently ran a consulting firm that helped Japanese start-ups and young business managers.

Idei died of liver failure on June 2.