Microsoft has said repeatedly that it’s transforming itself into a devices and services company, and that phrase is even spiked out in Ballmer’s official retirement announcement.
Nokia (NOK) CEO Stephen Elop is leading the Windows Phone 8 charge — the cornerstone to Microsoft’s attempt to adapt to a mobile world. While Nokia isn’t exactly setting the world on fire and many question Elop’s decision to go with Windows instead of Android, Nokia’s Lumia line of Windows smartphones has almost single-handedly moved Windows Phone from an also-ran into third place in the battle for mobile OS market share.
So Elop knows more than a little about devices, and he’s well-versed in the potential of Windows for the mobile market. He also held a senior role at Microsoft, heading the division responsible for Office, one of the company’s most consistently profitable products.
Bringing Elop on board as CEO — possibly buying Nokia and bringing it under the Microsoft fold as part of the “devices” mandate — would be a big move that could shake up the smartphone market and give Microsoft a new head of steam, with the comfort of having a guy at the helm who also understands the value of legacy products.
Reality Check: Each of these candidates is a long shot, but of the three, Elop seems the most plausible. Nokia and Microsoft are closely aligned at the moment, and Nokia is hurting. Now could be the time to snap the company up, make it the official Windows Phone division and bring Elop on board to run the whole thing.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.