So who exactly is running the show when it comes to Microsoft’s mobile efforts? A few more details emerged Wednesday about the reassignment of former Windows Phone head Andy Lees, and it doesn’t sound like he was rewarded for his past efforts with his new role.
The Verge reported that Lees was “benched,” citing an unidentified source who claimed that Lees met his downfall by over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to Windows Phone. The software is well-liked by critics but sales have been virtually nonexistent, and Lees didn’t help matters by alienating current and potential Windows Phone partners such as HTC and Motorola (NYSE: MMI), according to the report.
Lees is going to be working directly for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer in a new role that lacks definition but involves overseeing the integration of Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows 8 release–probably one of the most important in the company’s history–into its overall mobile strategy. The Verge’s report suggests that there is some meat to that role, but it still clearly removes Lees from the day-to-day running of the Windows Phone group just as the Nokia (NYSE: NOK) relationship is starting to bear fruit.
Given that several sources quoted by the report also expressed admiration for new Windows Phone head Terry Myerson, you have to wonder how much of this involves throwing the old guy under the bus and sucking up to the new guy. But if you judge a leader by the performance of his or her division, you have to admit that Lees had yet to accomplish really anything toward establishing Microsoft as a player in the modern mobile market in the year since Windows Phone 7 has been available.