No Mollenkopf for You, Microsoft

Qualcomm's COO is getting a new job -- at Qualcomm.

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Yesterday, I wrote about Bloomberg’s report that Microsoft’s list of possible CEOs included Steve Mollenkopf, COO of wireless tech giant Qualcomm. I mulled over the implications:

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.

Turns out that my thoughts on the matter became obsolete almost instantly. Mollenkopf is becoming CEO — of Qualcomm, which announced that he will succeed Paul Jacobs in March. Jacobs, son of a Qualcomm founder, will serve as executive chairman.

Even if Mollenkopf is out of the running, the notion of Microsoft hiring a hardware person to run the company remains fascinating. I don’t consider Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO and potential Microsoft CEO, as one: He’s a longtime software guy whose time in the smartphone-manufacturing business was quite brief. Which means that if a hardware veteran gets the gig, it’ll be someone who isn’t on the list of known contenders.