Could Stephen Elop Be the Next CEO of Microsoft?

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.

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  • I'd rather see some young blood in there. While I think Nokia makes great phones, the direction they have taken for the past three years hasn't been a market cracker - they've been producing solid, not very flashy devices with great cameras while the other major companies are releasing devices that throw around a bunch of flashy gimmicks that 95% of the userbase never uses and making thinner phones which are less durable and have les battery life, but they seem a lot cooler. This "produce a solid product and it will" sell mentality makes for a good product, but they're trying to sell a steak without the sizzle - the masses don't take notice.

    However much it isn't what I'm looking for when buying a smartphone - and I DO want to emphasize to Nokia/MS that an accessible file system IS one of those things - they've got to make their devices flashy and cool if people are going to flock to them in the phone market. Nokia phones for the past three years have been very solid devices that would work wonderfully for a lot of people but they haven't had that cool/flashy image of the Apple and Samsung devices.
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  • if he will become the ceo of microsoft there will be many lawsuits to prove he didnt plunge NOKIA into chaos and misfortune, so microsoft could buy it for a lower price, and then become microsoft ceo, since hes been with Nokia its stocks dropped from around 10 usd to around 4 usd
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  • Elop would be a HUGE improvement for Microsoft from a PR perspective. Balmer is good at what he does, but he comes off as being a beer drinking, football loving, trailer park American whenever he is seen in public. Elop is the opposite. He is a quiet class act who spent the last 3 years taking a failing company and turning it to at least a neutral ground on the path to profitability in an industry which is dominated by the likes of Samsung, Apple, and a growing number of Chinese vendors. That has been no small task at all.

    But, the best thing that I like about Elop is that he has an understanding on pricing for the market. Microsoft products are typically not bad, but they are priced allong the lines of Apple products while not being Apple products. Elop understood that if the Lumia line was to take off then it needed quality products that have low overhead so that they could undercut the market. So we get Samsung priced devices that feel like they have a much better build quality, and have grown a reputation of being indestructible. I would like to see this philosophy come to Microsoft above all else. Xbox should be priced the same as the PS4 and focus on making their money on accessories and software sales. Surface RT should be practically given away to get a hardware base in place which is forced to purchase apps in the app store. Surface Pro devices can be a little more expensive, but they should not be consistently $1-200 above their competition. I think that if MS really wants to transition to a device and service company then they really need to focus on hitting these price targets rather than looking at it from a profit per sale perspective like they are use to. But this is something that the MS board will not stand for, so I am not sure that Elop will be able to fix this particular issue even if he is placed in the CEO seat.
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