RealTime IT News

Is Microsoft Exec's Departure Part of a Reorg?

Microsoft confirmed Friday that it is doing some reshuffling within the ranks of the division that's responsible for everything from Windows Phones to IPTV to Xbox 360.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has confirmed the departure of one senior executive and a reorganization of the products and technologies under his aegis. However, a company spokesperson declined to comment on rumors that this reorg is only part of a much larger one waiting in the wings.

The spokesperson also refused to say whether Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president for the TV, video and music (TVM) business, has actually left the company or whether he's looking for a new position internally.

"Enrique Rodriguez has decided to move on from his leadership position running the TV, video and music business, and he is evaluating his next opportunity," the spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement to InternetNews.com. Such language is often a euphemism for "left the company."

Rodriguez's responsibilities have been moved under Senior Vice President Don Mattrick. The TVM business will be bundled into the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB). All will remain part of the Entertainment & Devices Division (E&D), headed by Robbie Bach, president of the division.

"As a natural evolution … our consumer products and experiences focused on games, movies, television, and music will now all be part of IEB," the spokesperson said.

"The TVM first-party businesses run by Craig Eisler (Zune and Windows Media Center) will move into IEB, and Mediaroom, the TV platform business, will become a stand-alone group within E&D reporting directly to Robbie Bach," the spokesperson added.

Mobile's last gasp?

Although the changes seem fairly straightforward, that hasn't stopped the rumors that have sprouted recently on Twitter suggesting that Bach, too, is on his way out. Among his responsibilities, Bach is also responsible for Windows Phone, a business that has been a failure for Microsoft to date.

A tweet from the blogger who runs Mini Microsoft, a blog that has long advocated streamlining Microsoft's bloated structure, hinted that Bach may leave and Windows Mobile would move into the Windows Division, which is run by Steven Sinofsky, who is widely credited with making Windows 7 a runaway success.

The company is slated to launch its latest push into the smartphone business next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Analysts agree that, unless Microsoft can quickly become competitive with Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPLE) iPhone and Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG), it may simply doom the company to being an "also ran" in mobile devices markets.

Also, Microsoft frequently has its nearly annual reorgs in February, so it is possible that anticipation is also helping to fuel the rumors about Bach being out.

Not everyone believes the rumors, however. Two analysts referred to them as what they are -- speculation.

"You'd think that if they were going to get Bach out, he wouldn't have been on stage [as co-keynote speaker alongside CEO Steve Ballmer] at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told InternetNews.com.

Philippe Winthrop, director of Strategy Analytics global wireless practice, agrees.

"It would be surprising to have an individual give such a highly visible presentation if they planned to have him leave," Winthrop told InternetNews.com.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.