Critics want more from Sony's president, if not resignation

Stringer has been missing throughout the PlayStation Network debacle

Howard Stringer has been missing in public throughout the PlayStation Network debacle, and some observers aren't pleased.

With the PlayStation Network outage well into its second week, and multiple statements and apologies from Sony executives and other employees, some are wondering just where in the world is Sir Howard Stringer, the president and CEO of Sony?

The question seems to be getting louder this week, following stories that share some business analysts' criticisms of Sony and Stringer. A piece on CNET today has quotes from an executive at PR agency Schwartz Communications, saying that Stringer's role as CEO should be putting him out in front early and often. "This is affecting 100 million of his customers and the fact that he hasn't said word one is shocking," said Schwartz's Merrill Freund in the story.

It wasn't until this past Sunday in Japan when Sony Computer Entertainment's head exec Kaz Hirai appeared in public to apologize for the incident and explain what had happened, and though he was flanked by two other executives, Stringer was nowhere to be found. To Hirai's credit, according to a story from the Wall Street Journal, the executive has been unceasingly hands-on in meetings about the PSN intrusion, and seems to be doing his best.

But to other observers, particularly in the financial realm, it's Stringer that needs to be saying something. The key quotes from today come from Michael On, a fund manager at Taipei's Beyond Asset Management. On said that Stringer's public absence speaks to Sony's "[inability] to manage crises," bluntly adding, "The current chief executive should step down after the hacker problems and the company's failure to push out products that are competitive."

Even though Stringer may not have the practical experience Hirai does under the PlayStation umbrella, his position at the top of the company carries certain expectations. As the CNET story mentions, CEOs like Apple's Steve Jobs and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are typically the leading voice of the enterprise when something big comes up, good or bad. As we're seeing now, Stringer's lack of public comment at this point can only reflect badly on his company, in a period of time that probably shouldn't get any worse.

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Ray Barnholt

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