Since Steve Ballmer declared his retirement from Microsoft as CEO, speculations on who will be the next big boss have been tossed around. One of the top candidates who appears on every list is the former CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop; he supposedly had the heart to run Microsoft, but recent information that we reported on this morning has shown that he may do more damage than good.
Bloomberg had reported that Stephen Elop would decide to take Microsoft off the current path they are on and put the company’s main focus on Office. It would be a high priority for Elop to deliver the world known Office suite to a variety of devices, including those which run iOS and Android.
Microsoft has been using Office to help drive sales of its own Surface tablets and its Windows Phone operating system, but Elop wants to kill that strategy and focus on making Office available more globally. For a company that has spent so much time creating its own software division – Elop’s decision seems akin to dropping the ball.
Microsoft has been a company primarily focused on software for over twenty years, and have fought valiantly into the world of hardware. Years ago, our only notion of major Microsoft hardware was the Zune and Xbox (Oh, and that ergonomic keyboard, who can forget that). Today, we can look at the collection of hardware including Surface, and truly see how far the company has come. Is Microsoft really willing to let all that effort die?
A quote by an anonymous individual, once said: “There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” Retreating from the world of hardware and focusing on what was once the beating heart of Microsoft, is a safer bet for now, but will it stand up in the future?
There is no doubt that Microsoft could survive on just software, but will they stand tall in the future next to those who choose to go father? Integrated systems are becoming more and more important and when a company develops both the software and hardware, we are likely to see better results.
The Surface represented a strong communication between Microsoft and set out to show what the company had to offer. If the future is the tie between hardware and software, where will Microsoft fall? Will Office be enough of a seller in fifty years? It is possible that those purchasing hardware will begin to prefer the integrated solutions and Office falls the way of IBM’s Lotus notes (does anyone born in the 1990s even know what that is)?
While the above may make Microsoft fans cringe, the plans to focus on Office are nowhere as dramatic as his other intentions. Elop would be “prepared to sell or shut down major businesses to sharpen the company’s focus”. What would be on the chopping block you ask? Major businesses include Bing and Xbox.
Imagine that, Elop taking the CEO position at Microsoft then killing off Bing and selling Xbox to a third party. An analyst from Nomura Holdings, Rick Sherlund, stated that if the company did sell of Bing and Xbox, “it could lift fiscal 2015 earnings by 40 percent”.
It doesn’t take much to look at a corporation and understand that a world of culture truly helps to define success. When we consider brand loyalty, Xbox One may not look the strongest next to Sony’s PlayStation 4 as of now, but it is one of the strongest bonds Microsoft has with its consumers.
It is not difficult to see what Elop has pictured, the idea that Microsoft is trying to balance too many projects at once could lead to a downfall, but Microsoft is no small company. Despite turbulence, many of Microsoft’s projects do hit a level of accomplishment that the company can be proud of. Putting all of the corporation’s eggs in one basket just isn’t forward thinking enough.
There is an idea that if someone cheats in a relationship to be with you, they might turn around and end up cheating on you also. While it might be up for debate, Elop didn’t exactly part Nokia on the world’s most positive terms of endearment. A CEO should have a heart for the company he runs, and I don’t think the world saw that with Stephen Elop at Nokia.
I must admit that up until today, Stephen Elop was my number one choice as a replacement for Steve Ballmer, but as information cooks up, it becomes evident that the passion Ballmer had for Microsoft will never be replaced.
Bloomberg’s reports on Elop’s possible decisions may still edge on the world of rumor territory, but the consistency of reporting for one of the world’s most prominent business sources doesn’t deal cards in favor of Stephen Elop.
When Elop left Nokia, he cut the company into pieces and cut 40,000 jobs. There are quite a few choices for replacing Steve Ballmer, but in the process of hiring the next great visionary leader, let’s not let a wolf in sheep’s clothing slip in.
“Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.”
– Thomas J. Watson, former chairman and CEO of IBM.
Stephen Elop – a future for Microsoft or the butcher of Microsoft’s future? You decide.
Frank Shaw, spokesman for Microsoft, commented about the rumor: “We appreciate Bloomberg’s foray into fiction and look forward to future episodes". And Nokia did not comment.