Bill Gates' greatest mistake was losing in mobile to Android

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Even some of the wealthiest and most successful people in the world live with regret. For Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, it involves Android.

During a recent interview with venture capital firm Village Global, Gates said his greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement he engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is (that being, 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 [Google] to company M [Microsoft].”

Gates wasn’t too torn up about it, however, noting that despite the colossal mistake, other bets like Windows and Office were still very strong and as a result, they are a leading company. “If we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company. But oh well.”

As The Verge highlights, it’s a bit surprising to hear Gates admit as much, especially considering most people associate Microsoft’s missed mobile opportunity with Steve Ballmer. If you remember, Ballmer famously laughed off the iPhone as being expensive and not appealing to business customers because it didn’t have a keyboard. Oops.

Ballmer’s biggest regret? Windows Vista. Yep, that certainly qualifies.

Permalink to story.

 

Rick Miller

TS Rookie
Lexter is correct in such that Gates wasn't "at-the-helm" when the rise of "Android" took place. Even so, doubt he could've thwarted it. I believe folks are realizing Microsh*# is not the omniscient gawd they were once thought to be. And I question "second most popular and well liked version of Windows made to date, Windows 7." That, certainly, is personal opinion and not fact!!!
 

Mugsy

TS Evangelist
MicroSoft notoriously doesn't innovate. They copy.

Windows was their version of the Mac GUI (which Apple copied from Xerox).
Bing after Google
For years, Internet Explorer was chasing Netscape
Zune was their answer to the iPod
Windows CE (their Windows SmartPhone OS)

Someone creates something, turns it into a success, and MicroSoft tries to make their own version (doomed to failure.)

I believe a MS version Alexa/GoogleHome based on Cortana is next.
 

Rick Miller

TS Rookie
RE: ANDROMADUS;

"Can we regret the things we've regretted? Lol..." Sure...it's called "selective" memory and is the staple of most politicians these days!
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I think Gates overrates himself. There are enough people out there who already overrate him. We don't need anymore. :laughing:
 

Verne Arase

TS Rookie
MicroSoft notoriously doesn't innovate. They copy.

Windows was their version of the Mac GUI (which Apple copied from Xerox).
Bing after Google
For years, Internet Explorer was chasing Netscape
Zune was their answer to the iPod
Windows CE (their Windows SmartPhone OS)

Someone creates something, turns it into a success, and MicroSoft tries to make their own version (doomed to failure.)

I believe a MS version Alexa/GoogleHome based on Cortana is next.
Apple licensed technology from Xerox, but what Apple put on the market looks nothing like or works nothing like Xerox's star systems.

Microsoft, on the other hand, cloned Mac OS as closely as possible and stole everything ... including the manuals.

Microsoft has a long history of partnering with successful companies while they pick their pockets.

Novell, IBM, Apple ... the list goes on as you inventory their products.
 

Cubi Dorf

TS Booster
Apple approach having different operating system for different hardware type is what Microsoft could have done and would work better. I thinking it not too late. Privacy could be the way in with customer. I would switch to an operating system for phone that doesn’t have advertising id built in. Not sure if would although given windows 10. Microsoft didn’t fully commit to phone and quit try too early.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
MicroSoft notoriously doesn't innovate. They copy.

Windows was their version of the Mac GUI (which Apple copied from Xerox).
Bing after Google
For years, Internet Explorer was chasing Netscape
Zune was their answer to the iPod
Windows CE (their Windows SmartPhone OS)

Someone creates something, turns it into a success, and MicroSoft tries to make their own version (doomed to failure.)

I believe a MS version Alexa/GoogleHome based on Cortana is next.
Apple licensed technology from Xerox, but what Apple put on the market looks nothing like or works nothing like Xerox's star systems.

Microsoft, on the other hand, cloned Mac OS as closely as possible and stole everything ... including the manuals.

Microsoft has a long history of partnering with successful companies while they pick their pockets.

Novell, IBM, Apple ... the list goes on as you inventory their products.
crApple did not license anything from Xerox. Jobs, himself, is on record saying he stole it in this title - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2104994/?ref_=nv_sr_5?ref_=nv_sr_5
 
Not even one mention of WinPhones here, which was amazing and had all the potential in the world - but MS tanked it on purpose, for no real reason. All they had to do was send their Win10 phones to Verizon. That's it. That's literally the only thing they had to do to make WinPhones prosper.

Even Verizon people have no idea why MS didn't want to send them their last round of Lumias. What a joke.
 

Nocturne

TS Maniac
No not really,

I would say microsofts greatest mistake was not focusing on their users and ignoring gaming on the windows platform as large as the community is.

The Xbox and PC should have occupied the same space instead of internally competing.
 

Markoni35

TS Addict
Gates made so many mistakes it's hard to count them. His main success cards were that his grandpa was a rich banker, his dad was a rich lawyer (co-owner of a law firm), and his mum wasn't that important... oh, wait... she was only a member of the IBM's board of directors. Other than those three things, he had almost no other help.
 

ckm88

TS Addict
MicroSoft notoriously doesn't innovate. They copy.

Windows was their version of the Mac GUI (which Apple copied from Xerox).
Bing after Google
For years, Internet Explorer was chasing Netscape
Zune was their answer to the iPod
Windows CE (their Windows SmartPhone OS)

Someone creates something, turns it into a success, and MicroSoft tries to make their own version (doomed to failure.)

I believe a MS version Alexa/GoogleHome based on Cortana is next.
One could also say that Micro$oft is pretty damn smart. Let others innovate and do all the thinking, then copy them and profit.
 

Nocturne

TS Maniac
I am going to get the haters on here even more pissed: Even though MS abandoned it, and even though a lot of apps are missing, I still find windows phone superior to both Android and iOS! In my Opinion, MS didn't fail, they just failed to cater to the lowest common denominator.
I mainly don't see it as a failure of Gates or Microsoft I had a Nokia Windows phone and it was fantastic for the most part, the only real failure was in the market itself, and ultimately probably the reason why phones like the Essential phone never took off even though they were fantastic devices, Apps and app support led to a chicken or the egg problem with consumers that simply were spoiled by Android and Apple having suck a vast marketplace.

I think the only real failure was throwing in the towel early as they did, but it very well could have been bleeding money to the point Internal politics in the company forced an early departure. Honestly it's 2 hard to say.

Microsofts largest problem is not actually listening to it's userbase and consumers but statistically staring at numbers and using them to shape the company. They created Windows and it made them the company they are, to blatently ignore or not have a large department dedicated to it is simply mind-blowing.....and yet it's an ever shrinking focus, companion devices like the tablets, phones, and xbox are great, but alot of people don't need or want an Apple ecosystem, they just want a great OS for their PC.
 

Nocturne

TS Maniac
Three problems with this article.
1. Gates wasn't running Microsoft when Android came into play for Microsoft to compete with, thus the article title is WILDLY misleading and historically inaccurate.
2. You quoted "The Verge"... o_0
3. Vista may have been Balmer's regret, but it gave direct rise to the second most popular and well liked version of Windows made to date, Windows 7.
Vista was wildly overblown as a failure, in fact it forced people to adopt a stable windows 64bit environment, Win 7 was Vista with a few issues solved by the market and a UI redress, finally supporting devices most of the blue screens were sound and graphics related it was a market failure not a Microsoft one...I always laugh when people blame Microsoft for Vista and they went out of their way to warn companies what they were going to do.
 
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treetops

TS Evangelist
Can't wait for Android to take the desktop OS scene. Maybe will be able to update without having to format a few times a year.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I'm already using it as the exclusive OS for one of my Dell laptops. Been using it for years. Love it.
For me, perhaps only if there was a giant Turn Off All Spying button that actually worked. With Linux, I need not care about such things.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
That only shows how little you understand AndroidX86 and how it works. The user has complete control over what information is shared and how.
But with Linux, I don't have to go and lock everything down. Any reasonable assumption that I have to go lock everything down means that there still might be something there that is not easily found, still on, and thus spyware by default.

Honestly, I have no interest in AndroidX86, and could care less about how it works. As I see it, pretty much anything that originated with gagme, not to mention gagme itself, is one of the roots of all evil in the modern world, IMO.

BTW - given your comment in another thread - as I see it, you phrased your answer as a personal affront.

Rephrasing it as such...

Well, with AndroidX86, all you would need to do is....

Would have possibly made your post more amicable.