Elop Isn’t the Answer, Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s roughly $7.2 billion deal for Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK)‘s handset business seems to nudge Stephen Elop closer to the throne at the world’s software giant.

It wouldn’t be a surprise. Elop was the early favorite in this race by most accounts, long before Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) decided to cut another big check this morning.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)The allure of Elop is simple. He’s a former Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) exec. He was the head of its business division — governing over the still-lucrative Office software franchise — until being lured away by the challenge of turning Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) around three years ago. Between his experience at Microsoft and his three years of watching over the company that once ruled the mobile market, Elop would seem to be a sensible choice to lead the tech bellwether into its new age as a devices and services company.

Some are even daring to compare this to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s decision to buy NeXT in 1996, a move that returned Steve Jobs to his company. It may be fair to compare Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to Apple now, as this decision all but cements that Windows Phone will be an in-house mobile platform — because no one is going to want to stray from Android to embrace Windows on smartphones outside of Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) now — but this isn’t exactly the acqui-hire that brings the prodigal son back in time for a renaissance, like Apple experienced.

Yes, Elop’s returning to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to head up its devices division now. It doesn’t mean that he’s the guy that can turn Microsoft around. Heck, he couldn’t even turn Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:NOK) around. Even after today’s pop, the stock is still trading for a little more than half of where it was at when he arrived at Nokia 36 months ago. Some can even rightfully argue that it was Elop’s deal to tie Nokia to Windows Phone that doomed the company’s handset business.