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Sony earnings hit record low

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Sony's troubles aren't getting any better.

The electronics giant reported a record loss for the 2011 fiscal year of $5.7 billion. More than half of that loss -- $3.2 billion -- came in the four quarter.

While unfavorable exchange rates and last year's Japanese earthquake certainly took a toll on the numbers, there was plenty of malaise to go around inside the company. And one of those problems was the company's video game arm.

The PlayStation division lost a hefty $2.8 billion last year, with all hardware systems losing ground (a natural occurrence late in the console generation). Sony sold 13.9 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide last year, versus 14.3 million sold in fiscal 2010. The PlayStation 2 sold 4.1 million units, down from 6.4 million, and the PSP sold 6.8 million, down from 8.0 year-over-year.

[Related: Japan's newest tower uses anti-quake technology]

Software sales were slightly higher, with Sony selling 156.6 million units worldwide versus 147.9 million the previous year.

As for the Vita, which many people have labeled as troubled, Sony says it has sold 1.8 million units worldwide since its launch last December. However, said CEO Kaz Hirai, the system's software lineup is still a problem

"For a game platform, like Vita, the software is the key to success -- how good the software is, that is the key to business success," he said. "We have to reinforce the software area in order to improve the business, that is the basic line. … Software and services must be strengthened."

Other divisions were hit hard, too. The TV-focused area of the company has lost money for the past eight years, and Apple has decimated the company's Walkman unit. But the performance of the game division is critical to Sony's future success. Hirai has singled it out as one of the company's strongest assets and a key to Sony turning around its fortunes and re-emerging as an electronics powerhouse.

There was some good news in the earnings: Sony's losses were less than the $6.5 billion they had projected. Not sure that qualifies as good, though.

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