Controversial Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop is firming up as a favourite to replace outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Bloomberg reports bookmakers are now offering 5-to-1 odds of Elop taking the helm of the tech giant, ahead of a range of internal candidates.
The speculation comes despite the Finnish mobile phone giant reporting its overall mobile phone and smartphone sales slumped 27% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013, with an overall quarterly loss of €115 million ($190 million).
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Overall, the Finnish communications giant saw its net sales plunge 24% for the quarter, from €7.542 billion for the second quarter of 2012 to €5.695 billion for the same quarter this year.
The picture was no better in its Windows Phone-based Lumia smartphone unit, where unit shipments fell 27% from 10.2 million units during the second quarter of 2012 to just 7.4 million for the same quarter in 2013.
As SmartCompany reported, Elop has also come under increasing scrutiny over the past year, with the Finnish Shareholders Federation going so far at one point as to threaten an extraordinary general meeting to sack him.
Former Nokia executive Tomi Ahonen, an industry analyst who is an outspoken critic of the company’s decision to abandon its Symbian and Meego platforms in favour of its current Lumia/Windows Phone strategy, downplays the possibility of Elop replacing Ballmer.
“I would LOVE for Elop to go run Microsoft, because that means he’d depart from his post of chief extinction officer of Nokia,” Elop says.
“Elop is totally damaged goods. He is associated with Ballmer, a loser now in [Microsoft chairman Bill] Gates’ mind. Elop is totally linked with Windows Phone, one of Microsoft’s costliest mistakes.
“The carriers/operators have spoken, loud and clear. Carriers gave 33% of the global smartphone business to Nokia before Elop announced Windows [Phone], today they only give Nokia 3%. Carriers have spoken, loud and clear.”
Elop is favoured ahead of a range of other candidates, including chief operating officer Kevin Turner at 6-to-1, while Andreessen Horowitz, Steve Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green stand at 8-to-1.