Dear Valued Visitor,

We have noticed that you are using an ad blocker software.

Although advertisements on the web pages may degrade your experience, our business certainly depends on them and we can only keep providing you high-quality research based articles as long as we can display ads on our pages.

To view this article, you can disable your ad blocker and refresh this page or simply login.

We only allow registered users to use ad blockers. You can sign up for free by clicking here or you can login if you are already a member.

Can This Exec Be Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)’s Jony Ive?

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) wants to be a devices-and-services company. The “devices” part of that corporate transformation is an ambitious shift from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s software roots. Surface is just the beginning, and it’s inevitable that Microsoft will continue expanding its first-party hardware offerings like never before.

With relatively little meaningful experience in hardware, who will lead Microsoft’s push into becoming a device maker?

Jony Ive, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

Trying something new
Bloomberg Businessweek believes that Julie Larson-Green may be preparing to take charge of all of Microsoft’s hardware engineering and design as part of an internal restructuring that’s in the works. That would be a similar position to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s industrial design chief Jony Ive, hardware engineering head Dan Riccio, or former hardware guru Bob Mansfield. Mansfield had been Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s hardware chief for a long time before a planned retirement that he cancelled, returning to the company as head of “Technologies.”

Larson-Green is one of two execs that took over Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Windows division in the wake of Steven Sinofsky’s departure late last year, with Larson-Green taking on responsibility for Windows hardware. If the reports turn out to be accurate, Larson-Green will be responsible for hardware engineering of all devices, which primarily means Xbox and Surface right now, although, presumably, would encompass Microsoft’s future forays into hardware.

With Don Mattrick leaving to become CEO of Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), someone has to take over Xbox hardware. The Wall Street Journal also has some idea of who may take over the Xbox segment strategically when the time is right, but Steve Ballmer reportedly doesn’t have anyone lined up immediately.

The challenge may be that Larson-Green has historically specialized in software and interface. During her many years within Microsoft’s business division, she led user interface design for Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007. Before that, she played a role designing the interface for early versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s flagship browser.

As the tech giants continue to broaden their focus to include hardware, software, and services, they’ve expanded the requirements for execs. For instance, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s Jony Ive has always specialized in hardware and design, but now he leads interface design, as well.

Within the three biggest tech players, each has strengths in different areas. Apple does hardware best, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) knows software, and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is the top dog in services. Each also has weaknesses. Apple has always lagged in services, and neither Microsoft nor Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a strong track record in hardware.

With hardware being one of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s biggest soft spots, can Julie Larson-Green make a name for herself in hardware?

The article Can This Exec Be Microsoft’s Jony Ive? originally appeared on and is written by Evan Niu, CFA.

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

DOWNLOAD FREE REPORT: Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks

Let Warren Buffett, George Soros, Steve Cohen, and Daniel Loeb WORK FOR YOU.

If you want to beat the low cost index funds by 19 percentage points per year, look no further than our monthly newsletter.In this free report you can find an in-depth analysis of the performance of Warren Buffett's entire historical stock picks. We uncovered Warren Buffett's Best Stock Picks and a way to for Buffett to improve his returns by more than 4 percentage points per year.

Bonus Biotech Stock Pick: You can also find a detailed bonus biotech stock pick that we expect to return more than 50% within 12 months.
Subscribe me to Insider Monkey's Free Daily Newsletter
This is a FREE report from Insider Monkey. Credit Card is NOT required.