Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) today named Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division (which includes Microsoft Office), as president and CEO of Nokia, replacing Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. Elop's reign begins on September 21, but does he have what it takes?
Elop joined Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) in January 2008. Before that, he was COO of Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), president of worldwide field operations at Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE), and president and CEO of Macromedia (which Adobe purchased).
Elop has lots of experience in software and international logistics. Nokia desperately wants to transform itself from mostly a cellphone company into hardware + software and services.
At Microsoft he negotiated some deals with Nokia, including placing Windows 7 on Nokia's netbook, the Booklet 3G, and integrating MS Office on handsets. So he doesn't come to Finland entirely ignorant of the company or its culture.
Also, he could help Nokia expand its enterprise offerings, perhaps resulting in more competition for BlackBerry (Nasdaq: RIMM; Toronto: RIM) or even Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7.
But Office is Microsoft's $18 billion+ cash cow that's now an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, product. Nokia needs a leader with vision and perspicacity who can galvanize the company's large number of extremely talented employees to create great, innovative hardware combined with exciting applications.
Moreover, does he have the guts and political savvy to cut through the bureaucracy to put his vision -- assuming he has a good one -- in place?
I think Nokia can reclaim its shine. We'll have to see whether Elop has the polish.
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