Sony's Andrew House Pt. 1

The new head of PlayStation grants us a full and frank interview at the PS Vita's Japanese launch

It's difficult to dismiss the phrase "Boy done good" from your mind when you meet Andrew House.

Since September, the 46-year-old Welshman has luxuriated in the job title of President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, making him the ultimate head of Sony's PlayStation business (the previous incumbents of his job being Ken Kutaragi and Kaz Hirai).

Of course, he is now based in Tokyo - luckily, following a stint at the turn of the millennium in Sony's corporate communications HQ, he is fluent in Japanese.


In the flesh, House is very impressive - there's no doubting his articulacy, as you would expect from someone who, after cutting his teeth in corporate communications, moved through the marketing ranks at Sony Computer Entertainment America. He's certainly not dumb and can point to a degree in English language and literature from Oxford University as evidence for that.

After a horrendous year in which the Japanese giant was knocked back by a serious of disasters both natural and man-made (the PSN hack), House clearly finds himself in a position of the utmost responsibility.

We managed to pin him down the day before the Japanese launch of the PlayStation Vita (read our PS Vita review) - at which he and Kaz Hirai presented a slightly bemused punter with the first PS Vita sold - and he made a speech in Japanese.

Although he wouldn't be drawn into discussing things like the PlayStation 4, he gave a full and frank account of Sony's 2011 tribulations, spoke about the importance of PS Vita to the company and the changes that his ultimate boss Sir Howard Stringer (a fellow Welshman) has made, and also revealed something of the man behind the job title. Here's the full, unexpurgated transcript of our interview with him.

Check back for part two of our interview with Sony's Andrew House later this week.

It has been an annus horribilis for Sony through no fault of your own: what happened to the company in that respect in 2011, and what effect has it had? You were hit by the Japanese earthquake, the tsunami and even the Sony DADC fire in Enfield caused by the London rioting...

Andrew House: And then you can layer in on top of that, more recently, the flooding in Thailand which, along with many other manufacturers, has had a fairly significant effect on production efforts. Yes, it has been a pretty tough year, no question.


I think it's kind of you to observe that these came about through no fault of our own. If I draw a positive out of it, I think it has been unity in the face of adversity. I do really think that there is a spirit at Sony - it's certainly something that has kept me very engaged and happy to be at the company for more than 20 years now - people do genuinely pull together.

We had episodes of great kindness during the earthquake, when one of our plants in Tohoku was affected. People were immediately engaged in rescue efforts. We've had senior executives wading through the water in Thailand to check on the situation at our factories and make sure that employees are doing well. So I think it has had the effect of pulling the company together.

Closer to home for the PlayStation business, there was the hacking incident. Not to sound like an excuse, but we're now in very solid company with many other institutions and companies that are suffering under the same sort of threat. But it galvanised us, right up to the very top of the company.

We've hired an extremely experienced Chief Information Security Officer at the corporate level, not just on the PlayStation level. We've revamped our systems to the best of our ability, to try to ensure that this kind of thing, as far as possible, can be prevented. But there were some very ugly threats going on, and we became the target.

The irony, for me, is that we became the target because we thought, I think quite fairly, that we were trying to protect our intellectual property rights from piracy. But it was ironically that which led a certain sector of opinion to think that, somehow, we were acting against their best interests. That will be an ongoing challenge, and I think it's one we'll have to take extremely seriously.

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