Microsoft founder Bill Gates discussed Microsoft’s business and identified losing the smartphone market over Android was the company's biggest mistake.
“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard 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 and what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M.”
The statement was made during a recent interview at Village Global, a venture capital firm.
Bill Gates, however, note that Microsoft’s Windows and Office assets continue to be very strong even after its biggest mistake that was Windows Phone. “It’s amazing to me that having made one of the biggest mistakes of all time, that our other assets Windows and Office are still very strong. So we are a leading company, but if we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company”.
Google acquired Android back in 2005 for $50 million, and former CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that Google’s initial focus was beating Microsoft’s early Windows Mobile efforts.
Microsoft spent months arguing internally over whether the company should scrap its Windows Mobile efforts, which were initially not touch-friendly compared to iPhones. Microsoft decided in December 2008 to scrap Windows Mobile and completely reboot its mobile efforts with Windows Phone.
Gates stepped down as CEO in 2000, taking the chief software architect role. He eventually stepped down as chief software architect in July 2008, and carried on as the company’s chairman until Satya Nadella took over as CEO in 2014.