Microsoft has made some major organizational changes to its Entertainment and Devices unit -- the part of the company responsible for its mobile, Zune, Media Center and Mediaroom IPTV products.
Earlier this week, Microsoft reorg'd the TV, Video and Media (TVM) group, which was headed by Corporate Vice President Enrique Rodriguez. Rodriguez has left the company ("decided to pursue other interests"). Rodriguez's core teams -- Zune software/services, Mediaroom IPTV, Media Center -- have been moved to Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which is also part of Entertainment and Devices. IEB is the unit in charge of Xbox, Games for Windows and Microsoft Game Studios.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the move:
"As a natural evolution of the Interactive Entertainment Business, our consumer products and experiences focused on games, movies, TV and music will move into IEB, led by SVP Don Mattrick. In addition, we've formed a new centralized E&D services infrastructure team, which will act as a combined resource across the division. Finally, Enrique Rodriguez has decided to move on from his leadership position running the TV, video and music business and is evaluating his next career opportunity. The TVM first party business, Zune and Windows Medica Center will move to IEB, and Mediaroom, the TV platform businesss, will become a standalone group within E&D, reporting directly to (E&D) President Robbie Bach."
It was just a year ago that Microsoft execs tinkered with the structure of E&D, splitting the Zune team in two. The software and services part of Zune was moved under Rodriguez. The hardware team was shipped off to Tom Gibbons, the Corporate Vice President in charge of Mobile Device Strategy and Commercialization -- the group that interfaces directly with phone OEMs.
So what happens to Windows Mobile in all of this? For now, it's staying in Entertainment and Devices. But there is a rumor on the anonymous Mini Microsoft blog that Mobile could be moved under President Steven Sinofsky. Sinofsky currently runs development and business strategy for Windows, Internet Explorer and Windows Live. I asked Microsoft officials for comment on the Sinofsky rumor and they had none, given Microsoft typically doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. (I'm kind of doubtful about the veracity of the Sinofsky piece, but stranger things have happened....)
Andrew Lees, Senior vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Communication Business, has been leading marketing and development for Windows Mobile software and Live mobile services since 2008. No word as to whether this week's reorg affected Lees and his organization.
The shake-up in Entertainment and Devices comes at a time when Microsoft is fending off criticism from all corners regarding its Windows Mobile product line. The company is expected to talk about the next major version of Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile 7, and possibly show off prototype Windows Mobile 7 phones at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona in mid-February. Microsoft also is on tap to discuss new development tools and strategies for Windows Mobile at the Mix 2010 conference in mid-March.
There have been rumors that Microsoft also might show off the long-rumored Pink phones/services at the Mobile World Congress show. Pink is the codename for both the set of premium mobile services and one or more Windows Mobile phones aimed at the teen/twenty-something market. Both the Pink phones and forthcoming Windows Mobile 7 phones are expected to begin shipping this year, with Windows Mobile 7 phones expected in the last quarter of 2010.
Microsoft officials won't comment officially on what Pink is or when Windows Mobile 7 will be released.