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Microsoft Appoints New Windows Phone Marketing Chief

Thom Gruhler
Thom Gruhler (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft on Monday named Thom Gruhler as the new corporate vice president of Windows Phone Marketing.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Gruhler worked at marketing communications firm McCann Worldgroup, where, notably, he helped develop the ubiquitous "Can you hear me now?" advertising campaign for Verizon. In his new position, Gruhler will be responsible for all Windows Phone-related advertising efforts.

Gruhler's appointment comes as Windows Phone continues to languish near the bottom of the smartphone market share standings; the platform closed 2011 with less than 2 percent market share worldwide, according to the latest figures from research firm Gartner. That puts Windows Phone far behind market leaders Google Android and Apple iOS, which command 51 percent and 24 percent of the worldwide market, respectively.

However, Windows Phone may be gaining steam in Europe due to the growing popularity of new Nokia devices running the OS. For the three months ending in mid-February, Windows Phone claimed 2.5 percent market share in Great Britain, putting it ahead of the Symbian for the first time in that region, according to market researcher Kantar Worldpanel. Kantar credits the Nokia Lumia 800, which debuted last fall, for Windows Phone's success abroad.

"I'm excited to be joining an outstanding team at Windows Phone that has built an amazing product, which is starting to turn heads in a very competitive market," Gruhler said in a prepared statement. "When you put a Windows Phone into someone's hands they love it, which is the ideal place to start as a marketer. I'm looking forward to working with the team to build consumer awareness and excitement for Windows Phone products and the overall brand."

Gruhler's statement underscores the increasingly consumer-centric direction of Windows Phone marketing. In a talk during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona late last month, Terry Myerson, corporate vice president of the Windows Phone Division, also indicated that Microsoft is focusing primarily on consumers, not enterprises, with Windows Phone. "When we did [Windows Phone], we simply recognized that to be a great enterprise phone, we need to be a great consumer phone first," he said at the time.

Myerson's comment came on the heels of Microsoft's announcement that it was lowering Windows Phone hardware requirements to court low-end smartphone buyers in developing markets.

Gruhler replaces Achim Berg, who left the position in November 2011 to become the corporate vice president of Operator Channels at Microsoft. Gruhler will report to Myerson, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.