Microsoft has been making some big moves lately and it’s been getting them big news too. The biggest news of all was the recent announcement by current CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within a year. Then, they made possibly bigger news by announcing the acquisition of Nokia. Instantly, the news started trending that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop might be the one to take on the CEO role of Microsoft. All this was followed by a bunch of product news regarding the Xbox One launch date and new versions of Microsoft’s Surface tablet, err, PC, err laptop – whatever it is. And all this in a span of about two weeks.
Before the acquisition of Nokia, many stories were written about Bill Gates coming back to be CEO of Microsoft. From a personal PR perspective for Bill Gates, this could be a great move. Look what Steve Jobs coming back to Apple did for him and the company at a time Apple appeared to be worse off than Microsoft today. There’s no questioning the legacy that Bill Gates has created just in taking Microsoft where he did when he was leading the company. But, the current hardline on Microsoft by the media and analysts is that this is a company in some trouble. If Bill Gates comes back and can’t turn it around, it’s practically harmless to him – it will be that it was going to happen anyway. He could even step away soon before a further slide down to control his reputation. But, there’s plenty of upside. If he comes back and leads a turnaround that is what Microsoft wants to be – continued dominance in the enterprise and services but new dominance in mobile and PCs – he’ll get the credit. If it happens, the credit w
ill be even larger than what Steve Jobs did for Apple because he will have beaten Apple again. They’ll not only be making movies about his turnaround and life, they might make sequels. It’s a serious consideration that Bill Gates should consider much more. Apparently, the rumor is he’s already stated he has no interest. Think again, Mr. Gates.
The problem with Stephen Elop as CEO is that he has the baggage of the press and analysts not giving him credit for a Nokia turnaround. Sure, perhaps one was starting to happen as Windows Phone sales continue to trend up with Nokia as the dominant provider. But, it didn’t complete under his watch. So, the theme for him will be a constant perception battle of “if he couldn’t do it for Nokia, how could he do it for big Microsoft?” Bill Gates doesn’t have such a perception battle.
Whether the move to acquire Nokia is right or not is up to the analysts to ponder. But, it clearly demonstrates Microsoft is in it for a big hardware push too. Right or wrong, they’re doing it. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they also acquired Dell at some point.
Whatever the plan is for Microsoft, these moves have sure made for a lot of interesting thoughts – and stories – on the state of market battles for enterprise to mobile software and hardware. They are seismic changes for sure and there’s only one tech person with that level of seismic perceptions to match – Bill Gates.