Microsoft CEO Candidate thinking of Selling Off Xbox, Axing Bing Search?

Stephen Elop & Steve Ballmer

After guiding Nokia out of choppy waters and into a Microsoft acquisition of its smartphone business, potential CEO candidate Stephen Elop could be mulling some very big changes if he becomes Redmond’s top dog.

Bloomberg reported Friday that former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop may already have some big ideas for running Microsoft, despite the fact that Steve Ballmer is still very much in charge of the company right now.

Elop is widely rumored to be on a short list of potential candidates for Ballmer’s position, and sources “with knowledge of his thinking” claim that the former Nokia CEO could shake up Microsoft in a big way if hired.

For one thing, Elop apparently wants to ramp up Microsoft’s strategy for putting the company’s popular Office productivity suite “on a broad variety of smartphones and tablets,” including iOS and Android. Touch-friendly versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint are already in the works, but Ballmer has made it clear they won’t arrive until after first landing on the company’s Surface tablets.

Those closest to Elop claim that’s only the beginning, with the CEO    candidate considering the sale or shutdown of key Microsoft assets “to sharpen the company’s focus.” The costly Bing search engine is one such service that could get the axe, but Elop apparently feels selling off the company’s thriving Xbox game console business could be another area of interest.

As crazy as that might sound, there could be a method to Elop’s madness: After all, Microsoft clearly has its hands in too many pies at the moment, but that could prove to be a hard habit to break.



Microsoft narrows CEO search to four candidates

Nokia, Skype, Ford bosses in the running for top post.


Microsoft has narrowed down its search for a new CEO to four known candidates, according to a report from Reuters.

Former Skype CTO Tony Bates and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are in the running, alongside Nokia’s Stephen Elop and Ford’s Alan Mulally.

Bates is now responsible for Microsoft’s business development and Nadella has been running the company’s cloud and enterprise business.

Elop is returning to Microsoft once the acquisition of Nokia is complete, and Ford’s Mulally is a strong candidate despite being committed to the motor company until 2014, according to the report.

Current CEO Steve Ballmer has said he will retire within the next 12 months. He is overseeing the search for a successor, which has apparently been whittled down from a list of 40 candidates.

Microsoft reported record first quarter sales last month of $18.53 billion, with profit of $5.24 billion.



Ford CEO is the top candidate to take over Microsoft

Alan Mulally in “serious” discussions to take over from Steve Ballmer.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally

Alan Mulally, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.

According to a report on AllThingsD, which cites several “people with knowledge of the situation,” Mulally has warmed to the idea of taking over as CEO of Microsoft, despite his initial reluctance.

Mulally keeps a house in Microsoft’s home city of Seattle, which he bought during his time as CEO of Boeing. He has always intended to return to the city, and maintains strong ties to Microsoft – he advised Ballmer on the company’s recent internal restructuring.

Until recently, Nokia’s Stephen Elop, who joined Microsoft after the recent multi-billion dollar acquisition deal, was thought to be the most likely candidate to replace Ballmer. However, sources claim that “serious” discussions are now taking place with Mulally.

Another potential candidate is the Microsoft exec Tony Bates, who was CEO of Skype prior to its acquisition.



PS4 ‘interest will exceed supply’, says SCEA CEO

Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton has become the second PlayStation executive to suggest that the company will struggle to make enough PS4 units to satisfy consumer interest.

After SCE CEO Andrew House warned last week that PS4 demand “may well outstrip supply”, Tretton told Forbes:

“I certainly think, given the technology that we’re offering, given the software lineup, given the price point we have, that we’ll have consumers interested in excess of what we’re able to manufacture.”

Tretton said last week that GameStop executives had informed him the retailer would purchase “every single [PS4] unit” Sony can manufacture, adding: “We’re excited about the momentum.”

Sony showed off the PS4 hardware for the first time during its E3 conference, when it confirmed a Christmas PS4 release date in Europe and the US and a PS4 price of £349 / €399 / $399, undercutting the Xbox One price by $100.

The PlayStation maker also used E3 to address the controversial issue of pre-owned games and always-on internet restrictions, confirming that PS4 games don’t require regular online check-ins and that disc-based titles can be traded or sold on. PS4 owners will however need to subscribe to PS Plus to play online multiplayer.



Sony Credit Rating Cut to “Junk” For the First Time, “Outlook Negative”

Global ratings agency Fitch has downgraded Sony Corporation’s rating to junk after consistently poor performance by the company and a negative outlook.

Sony’s rating has dropped three notches from ‘BBB-’ to ‘BB-, showing “Fitch’s belief that meaningful recovery will be slow” as Sony has lost its technology leadership with key products, suffers from high competition, is hit by the weak economic conditions in developed markets and struggles with the strong yen.

Fitch believes that continuing weakness in the home entertainment & sound and mobile products & communications segments will offset the relatively stable music and pictures segments and improvement in the devices segment which makes semiconductors and components.

Any significant recovery in 2015 “will be a challenge given the company’s circumstances.” CEO Kaz Hirai’s recovery plans that he announced in April 2012 “are the right approach”, but the execution and “intense competition across almost all of Sony’s key products may delay the recovery.”

Matt Jamieson, head of corporate research, spoke to the Financial Timesabout the downgrade of Sony and Panasonic:

This wasn’t an easy decision. But their reputations have been hit so much that it’ll take a long while to crawl back.

Damian Thong, an equity analyst at Macquarie Securities in Tokyo, added:

I don’t think the banks will push either of these companies to the wall. But they do need to convince people that tough restructuring moves will be done in good time, while minimizing unnecessary damage to healthy businesses.

Steve Durose, Fitch’s head of Asia Pacific technology, media and telecoms ratings, shared his thoughts on the businesses:

Without a radical change to the structure of their businesses it is difficult to see profitability improving enough for them to regain investment-grade ratings.

Are you concerned about the PlayStation-maker’s troubles? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Source: playstationlifestyle