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Nokia's Stephen Elop To Head Microsoft Devices Group
Posted February 25, 2014
Nokia's Stephen Elop To Head Microsoft Devices Group
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By Jennifer LeClaire. Updated February 25, 2014 10:13AM

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Not all the big wireless news is coming out of Mobile World Congress this week. A leaked memo is revealing some of Microsoft's internal mobile plans, including how Nokia's Stephen Elop fits into the big picture.

It all starts with Julie Larson-Green, a former Windows exec, and her internal memo carrying the subject line "ASG Organizational Announcement." ASG stands for Applications and Services Group. Larson-Green, who most recently was head of the company's hardware development division, is now the chief experience officer for ASG, which covers Office, Skype, Bing and other products.

That makes room for Elop to lead the company's Devices and Studios Group (DnS). Elop, who left Microsoft to become CEO of Nokia, is rejoining Microsoft as part of the company's $7.2 billion Nokia acquisition. The Devices and Studios Group covers Surface, Xbox and other hardware products.

Elop's 'Great Hands'

"I'll remain in role leading the DnS organization in the interim until the Nokia deal closes and Stephen Elop makes his transition to Microsoft. We've been meeting regularly throughout and are making a lot of progress, ensuring our teams are ready for the Day 1 close and beyond," Larson-Green wrote in the memo.

"You are all in great hands with Stephen and already we've shared a lot with him and his LT from Nokia regarding all of the fantastic people, teams and products in DnS. I also know many of you are looking forward to welcoming the Nokia team and working more closely with them."

Larson-Green then shared a favorite Chinese proverb: "To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping." Finally, she encouraged the crew to stay focused on the journey and opportunities ahead.

A New Mobile Era?

We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his take on the shuffle. He told us Elop is a "devices guy" so it makes sense to put him in that role. But considering Nokia was largely tanking before the acquisition, is Elop really the best guy for the job?

"I think when Elop went into Nokia the plan was to sell to Microsoft. Nokia was a train wreck when he got there. It wasn't like he was the guy that made all the wrong moves," Enderle said. "I think with the proper leadership at Microsoft Elop can make a difference."

As Enderle sees it, Microsoft didn't devote adequate resources to its mobile efforts and kept changing its strategy. Microsoft needs leadership that is willing to do what it takes to take back the mobile market.

"Now, Microsoft has a new CEO. You put Elop in as the mobile guy and at least you've got folks who understand the cloud and wireless working with each other in a simplified organization," Enderle said.

"At least from a structural standpoint, it looks like Microsoft may have addressed the problem. They made a big splash this week in Barcelona," he said. "They have a lot of device wins but that still has to equate to volume. I think they are in better shape than they were. We'll have to let this play out. It's a whole new executive team, so it's too early to say if it's going to work yet."

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