Ken Kutaragi, the whiz behind Sony's PlayStation, has always been something of a seer. In the early 1980s he developed a forerunner to the digital camera. By the early '90s, he convinced Sony's (SNE) senior execs to bet big on the first CD-based game console with decent sound and 3-D graphics. That morphed into the PlayStation franchise.
Now, the 53-year-old Kutaragi, executive deputy president of Sony, is creating a vision of the e-home that could reshape both the PC and consumer electronics industries. At its center is a superfast microprocessor, dubbed the Cell, that will go into a wide variety of Sony products, including PCs, PDAs, and the PlayStation update, PS3, which will be a home entertainment hub for downloading and storing movies, games, music, and data. The chip will enable zippy networking and interactive games with graphics as stunning as those in the movie The Matrix, says Kutaragi. If Kutaragi places Sony in the center of the e-home, there's a good chance he'll end up running the entire company.