Bloomberg Report: Microsoft Considers a Hardware Guy for CEO

A veteran wireless-industry executive joins the list of possible Ballmer replacements.

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Ever since Microsoft announced Steve Ballmer’s impending retirement back in August, speculation on his replacement as CEO has focused on a handful of candidates: Nokia chief and former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop, Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Microsoft enterprise/cloud honcho Satya Nadella, and Microsoft executive/former Skype CEO Tony Bates.

Now we can add another name to the list: Steve Mollenkopf, the president and chief operating officer of wireless technology company Qualcomm. A Bloomberg story by Dina Bass, Beth Jinks and Ian King reports that he’s a serious candidate.

If Mollenkopf got the nod, he’d be an intriguing choice on multiple fronts. Not only is he a Microsoft outsider, but his long experience — he’s a trained engineer and has been at Qualcomm for almost 20 years — is in technologies and components that make mobile computing and communications possible, such as Qualcomm’s processors for smartphones. He’s not a software guy, but if Microsoft is committed to reinventing itself as a devices and services company, he’d surely bring valuable expertise.

Another factor: Qualcomm, more than most technology companies, has done a good job of continuously reinventing itself over the last couple of decades to stay relevant as the world has changed around it. That’s what Microsoft is trying to do right now. And so picking Mollenkopf over the other known candidates would send a clear statement: Tomorrow’s Microsoft is going to be a different company than yesterday’s Microsoft.