Microsoft Loses Key Windows Phone Exec To Amazon

Microsoft's already struggling efforts to make headway in the mobile phone market suffered a blow Monday when Brandon Watson, head of developer experiences for Windows Phone, left the company, reportedly to take a job with Amazon's Kindle development team. Amazon did not respond to a request to confirm Watson's role at the company.

"We can confirm February 6th is Brandon Watson's last day at Microsoft," a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email. "Brandon did a great job helping us build a vibrant developer community and we wish him well with his next adventure."

The spokesperson did not say whether a replacement has been named for Watson.

As head of developer marketing for Windows Phone, Watson was responsible for all product management chores related to developer tools and the application platform as well as outbound marketing to developer communities.

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Attracting third-party developers to the Windows Phone platform is key to the product's success. By the end of 2011 the Windows Phone Marketplace had surpassed 50,000 applications, a respectable number, but still only about one-tenth the 500,000 applications available in Apple's online App Store.

Microsoft badly lags rivals Apple and Google in the mobile phone market. Last week market researcher Comscore reported that Google's Android held a 47.3 percent share of the mobile operating system market in December, up from 44.8 percent in September, while Apple's iPhone held a 29.6 percent share, up from 27.4 percent. Microsoft saw its market share drop to 4.7 percent in December from 5.6 percent in September.

In December Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer moved Windows Phone Division President Andy Lees to a new post relating to Windows Phone and Windows 8 -- the next release of the company's flagship software that's due later this year. Terry Myerson, the corporate vice president in charge of Windows Phone development, was named to replace Lees.

Watson began work at Microsoft in May 2008, working on the launch team for the Azure cloud platform before joining the Windows Phone operation in April 2010. Before joining Microsoft Watson was CEO of IMSafer and before that was product management director at RLX.