As we reported to you last week, Microsoft announced that it is buying Nokia's Devices & Services business for $5 billion, plus another $2.2 billion for licensing rights to many of Nokia's patents.
In the wake of the news, there are several interesting questions to explore, starting with these: With Microsoft and Nokia just two years into a strategic partnership, why is Microsoft choosing to own when it can rent? And why now?
There are at least two possibilities. First, buying Nokia is a defensive move. Second, Microsoft has found its next CEO, and that person is Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia.
The first possibility makes sense. Nokia accounts for nearly 82 percent of Windows Phone smartphone shipments and Microsoft simply can't afford to let the #1 manufacturer of smartphones using its Windows Phone platform add new platforms or fail, which had been a concern.
The second possibility is intriguing. Elop ran Microsoft's business software division before joining Nokia in 2011 and was the man behind the decision to adopt Windows Phone as the company's sole smartphone platform.
Elop's name was mentioned as a possible successor to Steve Ballmer when his retirement was announced. Other even more interesting names were floated, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and even Yahoo's relatively new CEO Marissa Mayer.
But there's another, deeper question to ask around CEO succession: Is Microsoft now too big and too complex to be run by just one person?
In an article published today in Yahoo! Finance, Marty Wolf explores this question in detail and arrives at a provocative conclusion: Microsoft's best hope lies in breaking up into at least two separate operating companies, one focused on its enterprise business and the other on its consumer business.
To read the entire article, click here.