Once tipped as future leader of the company Sony PlayStation developer Ken Kutaragi has now been kicked off the company board.

Sony meanwhile is in the doldrums as it waits for newly-hired company CEO Howard Stringer to transform its fortunes.

The company's new hit product, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was developed by Kutaragi, and Associated Press speculates that Sony's great innovator was passed over because of his: "outspoken nature in a corporate culture that's oiled by consensus".

"Independent and shockingly frank by Japanese standards, Kutaragi hasn't held back from criticizing company decisions," the report said, pointing to his pronouncements in January that Sony lost the plot to Apple's iPod because the company's coporate decision-makers had been "overly restrictive" in terms of supporting media formats in its portable music products.

"Obviously PlayStation 3 is a vital device for the company going forward. So I am under no illusions about the value and importance of Kutaragi-san," said company CEO Stringer recently, using the Japanese honorific "san."

However, Japanese shoppers cited by the article speculate that Sony is in decline.