Outsourcing isn't a word that executives in Japan like to toss around. Japan Inc. prefers to tie its fortunes to state-of-the-art factories that churn out chips, cars, and flat-screen TVs for the global market. But when Sony (SNE) Chief Executive Howard Stringer announced on Jan. 22 that he was considering drastic cost-cutting steps for the company's core electronics division, outsourcing topped his to-do list.
The shift marks a minor victory for Stringer. After more than three years at the helm, Stringer finally appears to be breaking the company's addiction to manufacturing, and to be channeling ever more resources into developing and designing products that users crave.