Stephen Elop knows Microsoft and he knows Steve Ballmer. Aside from teaming up with the Microsoft CEO for this video elaborating on the Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone partnership, Elop used to work at Microsoft. For two years, from 2008 to 2010, he ran Microsoft's Business Division and was responsible for Microsoft Office. Elop then took the role of CEO at Nokia in September of 2010 and, a few short months later, threw his support behind Windows Phone, making it Nokia's primary smartphone OS.
On Monday, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Nokia for a whopping $7 billion. The deal will see Elop step down as CEO of Nokia and move to Microsoft as 'Executive Vice President of Devices & Services' for Nokia. However, with the tech industry buzzing with news of the acquisition, the question everyone seems to be asking is if Elop will end up as CEO of Microsoft.
Steve Ballmer plans to step down within the year, but not before he helps Microsoft find a new CEO. Suddenly, Elop is emerging as a contender for the role. Before Elop took the reins in Espoo, Nokia was struggling in the smartphone space thanks to a stubborn commitment to see its own smartphone software succeed. Elop's 'burning platform' memo showed he wasn't comfortable with the status quo and pushed for change. Whether or not Elop's version of change has been good for Nokia is up for debate. He certainly gave the company's smartphone division some direction, but the call to go exclusively Windows Phone has been heavily criticized. Nokia is selling handsets (and indeed sells the most Windows Phone handsets out of anyone), but the company's share price continues on a path of steady decline.
Whether or not Elop ends up as CEO remains to be seen, but we do know that the possibility wasn't a factor for Microsoft in deciding to purchase Nokia. Speaking to the Verge, CEO Steve Ballmer said the deal was in place before he announced his retirement. So, Microsoft didn't buy Nokia for Elop. That wasn't even a small part of the deal. Regardless, Elop could still end up in the big chair. Then the question will be if he's better or worse than Ballmer.