Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates says letting Google’s Android become the dominant mobile platform was his “greatest mistake ever.” The billionaire made the comments in a conversation with Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julia Hartz at an event hosted by a US Venture firm Village Global.
“In the software world it’s very particular for platforms… These are winner-takes-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 phone platform – non-Apple platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win,” Gates said.
Gates has admitted that the biggest mistake the Redmond-based tech giant made was allowing Google to develop – and it cost the company $400 billion. “There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system,” he added. “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.”
Microsoft had phones running on Windows way before Google entered the mobile phone market, but it failed to make a dent in mobile operating systems. This was largely due to the lack of third-party developer support and closed nature of the operating system.
Comparatively, Android’s open nature made the mobile operating system more popular among developers, handset makers and eventually consumers. Android is currently the most dominant and successful mobile operating system ever with over 2 billion active users.
When Google and Apple entered the mobile phone market, roughly 10 years ago, Microsoft was headed by Steve Ballmer. When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007, Ballmer infamously branded the iPhone as “the most expensive phone in the world” and said that would not appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a “keyboard.”
Under Ballmer, Microsoft tried really hard to beat both Google and Apple in the smartphone game. In fact, the cash-rich company even bought Nokia’s smartphone business for which it paid $7.6 billion. But the company soon realised its mistake by writing off $7.6 billion over failed Nokia deal.
Ever since Hyderabad-born Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, the company is fully concentrated on its cloud infrastructure business and enterprise segment. Despite being absent from the smartphone market, Microsoft is still doing exceptionally well. In April this year, Microsoft became the third company to pass a market cap of $1 trillion.