For two months, Mr. Hirai has been searching with deputies for ways to streamline the company without wrecking product pipelines that could deliver innovations, the people said.
The cuts could be made over the next two fiscal years, ending in March 2014, though the timing hasn't been settled, the people said. The potential cuts were the first details to emerge of Mr. Hirai's restructuring plan since he succeeded Howard Stringer as CEO this month. The plan is expected to be announced at a corporate strategy meeting on Thursday.
Mr. Hirai is focusing on turning around an electronics business that has had four straight years of losses. The operation once was responsible for Sony's reputation for innovative products, but in recent years it has failed to match the success of Apple Inc. AAPL +0.26% and Samsung Electronics Co. and has suffered from a strong yen and brutal price competition.