"This is an opportunity for the board to watch Hirai san and judge his performance," current CEO Howard Stringer said. "There may be other candidates, but he has a leadership position." That leadership position is due in no small part to "the turnaround of the games business," which was singled out.
Hirai's promotion takes effect on April 1 and, while it's not a joke, his ascension to CEO is far from guaranteed. "The board and I have talked about succession planning and this is the first step," Stringer said. "We have not made a final decision." The other potential candidate? Hiroshi Yoshioka, who will head up Sony's other core division, "covering business to business areas such as semiconductors, batteries and other key components." While that may sound really boring, Stringer notes, "Yoshioka san has an opportunity to make a lot of money in his group, so the race isn't over."