Nokia just went outside the mobile industry to find its new leader: The world’s biggest mobile phone company just announced that it has hired Microsoft exec Stephen Elop as its new CEO, effective later this month.
At Microsoft, Elop led the Business Division, which is mainly the Office software suite, representing about half of Microsoft’s profits. He joined in 2008, and was previously COO for network infrastructure giant Juniper.
The move comes as Nokia has lost much of its relevance in the high-end mobile phone industry to the likes of Apple, Google, and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
It’s good that Elop has spent the last few years contemplating software, because software is increasingly important in the mobile handset industry. (Elop previously worked at Macromedia and Adobe, so more software experience there.) And the move brings Nokia closer to Silicon Valley, where much of the innovation in mobile is happening these days.
But Elop doesn’t have consumer electronics experience, or much consumer Internet experience — and his big competitors Apple and Google have a lot of it. And Microsoft is hardly the example of cool these days, especially the Office or smartphone divisions. So it’ll be an interesting challenge to see if he can turn Nokia around.
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