Bill Gates Regrets Microsoft Losing to Android as Dominant Platform Beyond iPhone

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Apr 12, 2001
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At a recent event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global, highlighted by TechCrunch, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lamented on losing to Android, calling it "one of the greatest mistakes of all time."

Skip to the 11:40 mark:


Transcript:
In the software world, it's very predictable for platforms. These are winner-take-all markets. The greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. Android is the standard phone platform -- non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you're there with half as many apps, or 90 percent as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system. [...]

It's amazing to me having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time... our other assets, Windows, Office, are still very strong... we are a leading company. If we'd gotten that right, we'd be the leading company.
In fairness to Gates, it was Steve Ballmer who served as Microsoft's CEO between 2000 and 2014. Ballmer infamously laughed off the iPhone, but Apple had the last laugh, as Windows Phone failed to ever gain any significant market share among mobile operating systems and is ultimately being abandoned.


Gates added that there is room for exactly one non-Apple mobile operating system, which is certainly the case as of today. Together, Android and iOS have an estimated 99.9 percent market share, according to research firm Gartner, having squeezed out former heavyweights like BlackBerry and Nokia.


Simply put, Apple upended the industry when it launched the iPhone in 2007, and Microsoft failed to respond. Windows Phone could have been the commoditized mobile platform, as Windows is to Mac, but Android won the battle.

Article Link: Bill Gates Regrets Microsoft Losing to Android as Dominant Platform Beyond iPhone
 
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Zimmy68

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
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I admire Bill Gates. He is not speaking in platitudes. He is talking about the tech, not the customer experience. He is not worried about shareholders.
Even better, he probably was only involved at a very high level but yet takes all the blame.
 

tevion5

macrumors 68000
Jul 12, 2011
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I'm an Apple zealot but I really like what Nadella is doing with Microsoft and I'm glad Ballmer is gone.

Satya opposed Ballmer's misguided Nokia buyout from the start, is leading MS in the cloud, expanding MS's presence in games again and opening up software and development tools like VisualStudio to Linux and Mac. Heck even Flight Simulator is making a comeback! A Microsoft that leans into its strengths is good for the whole tech industry imo.

Also I think Windows Phone was a sleek platform and I'm sorry it didn't take Android's spot as the defacto 'open' OS in the smartphone space. I much prefer straight up Hardware/Software companies like Apple and Microsoft, as opposed to pseudo tech advertising giants like Google.
 
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Falhófnir

macrumors 601
Aug 19, 2017
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I initially followed Nokia onto the WP platform for a time, and at first it actually showed decent promise to offer much of the best of both Android and iOS - unfortunately MS just didn't seem to have their heart in actually getting it up to snuff with the other two, so it just fizzled out.
 

Slippery Gimp

macrumors regular
Aug 2, 2008
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Leeds, UK
I had a work phone that was Windows Phone, i thought it was a nice looking OS and it would have been nice if it still existed as a third option. Competition is always good.
 

subjonas

macrumors 68030
Feb 10, 2014
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Yeah I thought it was a real shame that the windows phone didn’t take off. I thought it had great potential as a phone, and more importantly, the potential to make the windows ecosystem all around a much more complete competitor to Apple’s ecosystem than Google’s chrome+android ecosystem.
 

redman042

macrumors 68030
Jun 13, 2008
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"it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard"
That gave me a good laugh :')
In all fairness, a lot of business customers actually did feel that way at the time. I was the first person in my engineering consulting firm to purchase an iPhone, and that was the 3G model a year later. Everyone else was rocking BlackBerries or Palms and thought the iPhone was a glorified toy. It took about another year or two before my coworkers started jumping on the iPhone train en masse.

What few realized at the time was that typing on the screen was actually WAY better than typing on a mini keyboard. Apple was one of the few companies that saw that. Ballmer’s problem is that he was too pig headed to looking to the future and admit the change that was coming.
 

DNichter

macrumors G3
Apr 27, 2015
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At least he is honest about it. Most will point to Ballmer, which is fair, but Bill still had as much pull as he wanted during this time frame. Very true though, Android should be the Windows equivalent to macOS/iOS. They really blew it when it comes to mobile. I have admired their approach recently under the new CEO, but mobile is too far gone at this point.
 
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Moonjumper

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2009
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Lincoln, UK
iOS and Android are going to be hard to beat, but Huawei's mobile OS might stand a chance if it gets a start with traction in China.

(I don't mean this as a political post, I just see an opportunity for a new OS that might get backing in it's home country, I'm interested in what a new OS starting from zero would be like)
 
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