Can Microsoft's new captain right the mobile ship?

With little mobile experience, Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, will need to turn Microsoft's fortunes around in the mobility space, where the PC giant has lagged far behind market leaders Apple and Samsung.

In a letter to Microsoft employees on his first day as CEO, Nadella seems to recognize this new reality: "In our early history, our mission was about the PC on every desk and home, a goal we have mostly achieved in the developed world. Today we're focused on a broader range of devices. While the deal is not yet complete, we will welcome to our family Nokia devices and services and the new mobile capabilities they bring us."

Nadella has spent most of his career at Microsoft and may have trouble taking Redmond in a new direction. "His insider status raises the risk of his being overly respectful of existing businesses, and hanging back from tough decisions that potentially threaten them but are critical to generating innovation. He will also need to shake up what is widely viewed as a culturally dysfunctional management structure," writes Merv Adrian, research vice president at Gartner.

Microsoft needs to apply consumer usability to "its considerable assets in IT infrastructure to change its image of a legacy enterprise vendor competing in a consumerized market," argues Adrian.

In addition, Microsoft "must enable a complete, compelling set of apps that attracts developers and can compete with and within iOS and Android environments…Acknowledge its customers' heterogeneity by supporting Google and Apple client environments, the Linux/Java environment on servers, and cloud-based services in general," he concludes.

Whether Nadella is up for the mobile challenge Microsoft faces remains to be seen. If he fails to right the mobile ship, Microsoft's once dominant position in enterprise IT could go the way of BlackBerry's former dominance of enterprise mobility. - Fred