Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has shifted Andy Lees, president of Windows Phone, to a new role in the company. Big changes could be afoot.
Steve Ballmer has replaced Andy Lees, president of the company's Windows Phone
division, with Vice President Terry Myerson. However, the latter will not
inherit the actual "president" title.
At the same
time, Ballmer shifted Lees to another role within Microsoft: expanding on the
interoperability between Microsoft's various platforms, including Windows Phone
and Windows 8.
"I have asked
Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity
focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8,"
Ballmer wrote in an internal memo reprinted in part by AllThingsD
Dec. 12. "We have tremendous
potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really
deliver against that potential."
news, online forums filled with speculation over whether Lees' shift
represented a promotion or demotion. In the "promotion" category, Microsoft
certainly is faced with a significant challenge and opportunity in ensuring its
various products cooperate in a massive ecosystem-exactly the sort of thing
that needs a strong leader capable of seeing the big picture. It also opens up
the possibility that Microsoft will bind Windows 8, its upcoming operating
system due in 2012, in some close and fundamental way with Windows Phone, which
currently exists wholly as a standalone platform.
Those who see
Lees' shift as a demotion, however, point to Microsoft's declining market share
in smartphones (as indicated by third-party analysts). Although Windows Phone
has earned critical praise from some quarters for its unique user interface, it
has not performed up to Microsoft's sales expectations. "We haven't sold quite
as many probably as I would have hoped we would have sold in the first year,"
Ballmer told an audience during Microsoft's financial analyst meeting earlier
declined to officially break out sales numbers for Windows Phone. But according
to research firm comScore, the company's Windows Mobile/Windows Phone share
dipped to 5.4 percent of the overall market in October, down from 5.6 percent
in September and 5.8 percent in August.
role will involve Windows Phone's development and marketing, an expansion from
his previous focus on the mobile platform's engineering. Microsoft has paired
with a wide cross section of manufacturers, including Nokia, to build and
promote a new generation of Windows Phones loaded with the company's
broad-based Mango update.
Phone team faces some considerable rivals in its bid for broader adoption. Both
Google Android and Apple's iOS are battling for the lion's share of the
smartphone market, as well as the loyalty of third-party developers, and
Research In Motion-despite its declining market share-remains a potent force
among business users.
Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter