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Microsoft seeks new phone boss, cuts PocketPC supporters adrift

Corporate push leaves grassroots, MVPs unchuffed

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Exclusive A re-organization of Microsoft's Pocket PC marketing operation has left some of the platform's most enthusiastic supporters out in the cold.

It's even caused concern amongst The Beast's brownshirt vanguard - its army of unpaid MVPs ("Most Valuable Professional"s) - who in return for advanced technical information and the hope of catching downstream contract work, help evangelize the company's new technology.

In the Pocket PC business, MVPs have been nurtured and lovingly encouraged: and the result has been a vibrant section on Microsoft's own site with "independent" reviews and much knowledgeable advice. Up to now, that is.

Microsoft has informed contributors that it will no longer be publishing community content on its site. The "Club PocketPC" - which aped Nokia's successful "Club Nokia" program, already looks distinctly stale. The last "featured review guide" was published on January 8, and the most recent column on September 17 last year.

In the meantime, enthusiasts are being asked to bolster their own sites.

One MVP was thought the strategy shift was misguided:-

"They spend millions to grab mass market share to beat Palm, and then they get comfortable, and backburn, with a scorched earth policy for enthusiasts and community programs and outreach," he told us.

"Microsoft does best when behind, once they catch up they don't break ahead."

Veteran users of WordPerfect and Netscape Navigator will probably see a pattern: Microsoft blesses its competing product with a glut of imaginative features, then lets it atrophy.

However in focusing on the enterprise - and Microsoft's smartphones and PDAs form a part of a larger integrating sales pitch - the evangelists feel Microsoft is neglecting a core asset:-

"What they fail to see us that most of the community is the enterprise, too."

On his site Pocket PC Thoughtsone Pocket PC enthusiast, MVP and veteran hacker Andy Sjostrom laments Microsoft's new-found complacency:-

"What if Palm OS 5 takes off with brand new hardware, including phone combos, from Palm and other licensees?... What if the "Pocket PC camp" goes as stale as the first page of PocketPC.com? ... What if Nokia releases a super smart Symbian-phone with great connectivity and multimedia features? ... What if Motorola and Sony/Ericsson follow shortly thereafter and release even smarter Symbian-phones?"

"In two short years, from now, what looked to be off to a great start can be left in the dust," he writes.

Indeed. But the enthusiasts are further dismayed that the community drum-bashing role performed by the popular, and widely respected PocketPC marketing honcho Derek Brown is now performed by "mobility marketing" chief Beth Goza, assisted by Nicole Papineau [and not Nicole, as we stated earlier].

We asked Microsoft what was going on, and what Derek was doing now, but they couldn't provide an answer in time for deadline. Waggoner Edstrom has subsequently told us that "Derek Brown is now the lead of the global marketing communications team of which Beth Goza is a part of. He's very much still a part of the community he helped build."

However Microsoft, which reshuffled its troubled phone business last Fall, is now recruiting for a new "Director of Mobile Device Evangelism".

"As the Director, you will lead a team that is responsible for driving broad adoption of Microsoft’s mobile devices including Pocket PC and Microsoft’s Smart Phone," according to the job ad.

Which suggests that in the week that Microsoft told the world it was serious about phones, it hasn't quite got its team in place.

For some inexplicable reason - and we can't see what on earth this has to do with cellphones - the job requires "A deep technical understanding of the of the [sic] Windows 2000/XP Server, Active Directory, Exchange, and IIS."

Apply here. ®

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