The management shakeup at Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division doesn’t reflect dissatisfaction with the company’s mobile and game console strategies, company CEO Steve Ballmer said Wednesday.
“Robbie Bach’s been thinking about the possibility of retiring and spending more time with his family. He and I talked about whether we should go ahead and announce that now or wait until after Christmas,” said Ballmer, who was in Singapore as part of a trip to Southeast Asia.
Bach, president of the entertainment and devices group, will retire from Microsoft later this year, the company announced Tuesday. Don Mattrick, the senior vice president who leads the company’s interactive entertainment group, and Andy Lees, the senior vice president responsible for the mobile communications group, will report directly to Ballmer starting from July 1.
Bach’s retirement comes at a crucial time for Microsoft. Later this year, the company will release Project Natal, a sophisticated motion-sensing camera, that it hopes will spur additional demand for the Xbox 360 game console. In addition, Microsoft is releasing the Windows 7 Phone OS this year in an attempt to reclaim a leading position in the smartphone market, a position that’s largely slipped away in the face of competition from Apple and Research in Motion.
The departure of Bach doesn’t signal a desire to change the entertainment and devices group’s strategy or product plans, Ballmer said. “I love what we’re doing with Xbox and certainly the market reaction to the early look at Windows Phone 7 and the Kin has been very good.”
In addition to Bach’s retirement, J Allard, the senior vice president responsible for design and development in the entertainment and device group, will also step down, although he will remain as a strategic advisor to Ballmer.
“He’s pretty close to 40 and he’s got some things he’d like to spend his life on that are not work-related,” Ballmer said.