Andrew Lees, senior vice president, Mobile Division, Microsoft
What makes him powerful: Despite its impressive size and reach, Microsoft continued to fade further behind its mobile software rivals in 2009. According to market research firm Gartner, Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system accounted for just 9.3 percent of smartphones sold in the second quarter of this year, down from 12 percent a year earlier--that's as overall smartphone sales increased to 41 million from 32.3 million in the second quarter of 2008. The challenge facing Microsoft's mobile communications division Senior Vice President Andrew Lees is unique and complex: In its fight with iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, Windows Mobile is both David and Goliath, an underdog undermined by its own lumbering mass and scale, complete with a patchwork multitude of devices and applications viewed as passé by the affluent, taste-making subscribers that operators covet the most.
Lees must transform the fragmented Windows Mobile ecosystem into a more cohesive platform with a clearly definable identity, an effort that was supposed to reach critical mass with the early October introduction of the updated Windows Mobile 6.5 OS and its accompanying Windows Marketplace for Mobile application storefront. But the news was completely overshadowed by the game-changing announcement that longtime rivals Verizon Wireless and Google will partner for a series of Android handsets and applications. Even worse for Microsoft, when pundits did finally remember to shine a spotlight on Windows Mobile 6.5, the reviews were "Waterworld"-bad. (Already hackers are releasing their own unofficial WinMo 6.5.1 builds, and most critics agree they blow Microsoft's official release out of the water.)
Even more ominous, Microsoft has not yet announced an official release schedule for the long-in-the-works Windows Mobile 7, widely considered its last-ditch attempt at mobile relevance. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said the software giant understands it must make significant strides with WinMo 7, scheduled to premiere sometime in 2010. But after so many stumbles, there is little confidence Microsoft will deliver on Ballmer's promises. Windows Mobile still casts a massive shadow over the wireless software landscape, but surely Lees recognizes that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. --Jason