During a talk with venture capital company Village Global Bill Gates admitted that he regrets that Microsoft didn’t beat Google to create the “standard non-Apple phone platform”.
In his own words,
“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.”
Many would point to Steve Ballmer as the reason Microsoft didn’t take Apple’s iPhone seriously, famously laughing at it, seeing it at the time as an overly-expensive phone that had no appeal to business users because it lacked a keyboard.
Back in the day, Microsoft had Windows Mobile and it was mostly a miniaturized version of Windows on the PC. When the iPhone arrived in 2007, followed shortly after by Google’s Android, it became clear that people prefer the all-screen OS.
Microsoft tried to get back into the race in 2010 with the release of Windows Phone 7, but by that time it was lacking compared to Android and iOS. That combined with limited support by manufacturers and a need for another reset with Windows Phone 8 ultimately sealed the fate of the platform.
Still, it’s not all bad for Microsoft. In recent years, under the reign of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has become the most valuable company in the world, beating both Apple and Google.