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How the tech parade passed Sony by

The lights dimmed. The crowd hushed. The teleprompters flickered.

Kazuo Hirai stepped up and flashed a winning smile: it was show time. The scene was oddly upbeat inside the Sony Corporation last Thursday as Mr. Hirai, the company’s new chief executive, faced the cameras. He outlined a strategy that, he vowed, would return the troubled electronics giant to profit.

“The time for Sony to change is now,” said Mr. Hirai, who formally took up the C.E.O. post on April 1. He posed for the cameras, one finger held high in a No. 1 sign. “I believe Sony can change,” he said.

Outside Sony — and inside it, too — not everyone is quite so sure.

That is because Sony, which once defined Japan’s technological prowess, wowed the world with the Walkman and the Trinitron TV and shocked Hollywood with bold acquisitions like Columbia Pictures, is now in the fight of its life.

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