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

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.

Top Rated Comments

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17 weeks ago
With that idiot Ballmer at the helm, be thankful the whole company wasn't lost.
Rating: 71 Votes
17 weeks ago
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.
Rating: 53 Votes
17 weeks ago
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.
Rating: 49 Votes
17 weeks ago
"it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard"
That gave me a good laugh :')
Rating: 29 Votes
17 weeks ago
Android is just as messy as Windows, so I guess we still got what MS couldn't deliver.
Rating: 26 Votes
17 weeks ago

With that idiot Ballmer at the helm, be thankful the whole company wasn't lost.

DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS
Rating: 23 Votes
17 weeks ago
Ballmer underestimated the potential for the iPhone when it launched in 2007, what he didn’t realize, it wasn’t about the hardware, it was about the iOS experience that would change the game forever.
Rating: 21 Votes
17 weeks ago

In all fairness, a lot of business customers actually did feel that way at the time.


Textbook case of Steve Jobs' "people don't know what they want until we show them" marketing philosophy.
Rating: 19 Votes
17 weeks ago
Interesting how he frames it as having lost to Android instead of losing to Android and Apple.
Rating: 17 Votes
17 weeks ago

Android is just as messy as Windows, so I guess we still got what MS couldn't deliver.


No, not even close. Android is actually a lot more ‘cleaned-up’ than Windows OS ever was. I mean, have you used Android recently to say that?
Rating: 15 Votes

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