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Samsung Mobile Exec Joins Windows Phone Team

Gavin Kim, a high-ranking executive in Samsung's mobile group, has left for Microsoft to help it build the fledgling Windows Phone 7 product line.

Microsoft has named Kim general manager, Windows Phone product management, the company confirmed on Monday. His previous job was as vice president for content and enterprise mobility at Samsung. At an event in August, he introduced a software update for Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet. Kim's job change was first reported on the blog Boy Genius Report.

Samsung has ridden Google's Android platform to great success in mobile phones, achieving the leading market share in the global phone business and the largest maker of Android devices. But the company has also used Windows Phone 7 in some handsets. Like many manufacturers that base products on Microsoft software, Samsung has a complex and longstanding relationship with Microsoft, said analyst Michael Cherry, of Directions On Microsoft.

Microsoft did not immediately provide more information about Kim's new job on the Windows Phone team.

"That kind of a role at Microsoft is generally involved in working on the tech design and the specs, and ... what features the version will have, and the schedule," Cherry said. However, titles are used loosely at the software giant in Redmond, Washington, he said.

Microsoft is pitting Windows Phone 7 against the more established Android, Apple iOS and BlackBerry platforms. Despite a partnership with Nokia that led to the unveiling last week of the Nokia 800 handset, the first using the Mango update of the OS, Microsoft has an uphill battle ahead in attracting both consumers and application developers. In addition, it's not clear what the future of the platform will be after Windows 8 is released, Cherry said. Windows 8 will have a version that runs on the Arm processor architecture, which runs most mobile phones.

In August, Charlie Kindel, the general manager of the Windows Phone developer experience, left Microsoft to start an unnamed new company.

The fact that Samsung hasn't challenged Kim's right to defect to Microsoft indicates the move won't affect relations between the companies, Cherry said. Some vendors have sued when key executives left for a more direct competitor, as in a high-profile dispute over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd's hiring at Oracle.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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