Sony's back! Walkman not included

Sony surges. Take that, North Korea!
Sony surges. Take that, North Korea!

Sony will turn a tidy 140 billion yen ($1.2 billion) profit this fiscal year, the company predicted Thursday.

Should the forecast hold, it would be a return to form for Sony. But maybe not to the Sony you remember.

Sony is famous for creating innovative consumer electronics like the Walkman, Discman and Trinitron. But these days, the company isn't making much money on gadgets. Instead, it's turning a profit on components that go in other people's gadgets.

It's part of a strategy announced in February that focuses Sony on a few key growth drivers. Image sensors and the PlayStation are on that shortlist, as are music and movies -- despite the devastating hack on Sony Pictures late last year.

Of those businesses, only PlayStation is tied to Sony's legacy as an elite hardware company. But even that is changing, as Sony invests in streaming services like PlayStation Now that allow people to play without a game console.

Related: Sony surges. Take that, North Korea!

The pivot may be radical, but many feel it was also inevitable.

Years of losses on hardware have taken their toll on Sony, which struggled to compete as high-end products like TVs become commodities.

We're now a long way from the glory days when Sony's engineers led the way. They helped create the CD, invented a new type of television and relentlessly miniaturized almost every type of electronic device.

They also helped Sony dominate large markets like video games, and produce quirky experiments like the robotic dog Aibo. Sony's creations virtually defined the entire electronics industry.

Now, Sony is about components.

"Whether it's a device that goes into other manufacturers' products or sometimes our own, if there's innovation there ... that's something I get excited about," CEO Kazuo Hirai told the Wall Street Journal.

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