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Learning English - Words in the News
07 March, 2005 - Published 16:18 GMT
Non-Japanese heads Sony Corporation
Howard Stringer with Nobuyuki Idei, the outgoing Sony chairman

Japan's Sony Corporation has unusually named a non-Japanese, Sir Howard Stringer as chairman and chief executive. The company has recently been criticised for not keeping up with its rivals. This report from Rodney Smith:

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Howard Stringer has already made a name for himself as head of Sony Corporation in the United States, and as chairman of its electronics unit. However the company as a whole, best known for its Playstation portable video games console, its Walkman personal music machines and its Vaio personal computers, has been losing market share to innovative new ideas from competitors. These include Samsung of South Korea and Apple Computer, whose iPod personal music system strays right into the Walkman territory that Sony once claimed for itself.

Sir Howard, who was knighted in 1999, is an American citizen, but he was born in Britain and grew up in Cardiff in Wales, where he still has a home. He emigrated to the US in the mid-1960s, where he joined CBS television as a journalist. He rose to President of CBS where he gained a reputation for boosting it to the top of the US television network ranking, before moving to Sony.

It is unusual for a non-Japanese to reach the highest levels of Japanese business. The only similar case is Carlos Ghosn the chief of the Nissan motor company which is part owned by Renault.

Listen to the words

losing market share
if a company is losing market share, it means more customers are buying from other companies

newly invented, clever

to stray means to move away from the usual area into another area. Here, Apple used to concentrate mainly on computers but now produces iPods which are part of a different area.

an area which is dominated or owned by one person or thing. In this context, 'the Walkman territory' means the area of personal music players, which used to be dominated by Sony.

Sir is a title given to people who have been knighted (see below). Note that knights are referred to as 'Sir + first name' not 'Sir + surname' e.g. Sir Howard. Without the capital S, 'sir' is a polite way of speaking to any man you do not know.

to be knighted is an honour given by the King or Queen of Great Britain. If you have been knighted, you are called 'a knight'.

moved to live in another country

to boost something means to increase it or move it upwards. Here, to make it more successful.

a list showing who or what is the most important, most successful, most expensive etc. Here the television network ranking shows which networks had the most viewers.

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