Microsoft CEO says his "most difficult decision" was exiting the mobile market

Shawn Knight

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In a nutshell: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has revealed that giving up on mobile was one of the toughest decisions he had to make when taking over the reins at Redmond. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Nadella was asked about strategic mistakes or decisions that he otherwise regretted in retrospect. The chief executive cited pulling out of what he called the mobile phone industry, no doubt referring to the $7.5 billion write down of Nokia in 2015 shortly after being named the head honcho.

Nadella said that in retrospect, he believes Microsoft could have made things work by perhaps reinventing the relationship between PCs, tablets, and phones.

Nadella isn't the only Microsoft bigwig to fumble the mobile opportunity. Back in 2019, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said his greatest mistake was losing in mobile to Android. If they had gotten that one thing right, Gates believes Microsoft would be the leading company instead of a leading company.

Google paid a mere $50 million for Android in 2005, an absolute steal in hindsight. According to StatCounter, Android commands nearly 70 percent of the global mobile operating system share worldwide.

Fellow former CEO Steve Ballmer also dropped the ball with regard to mobile. Shortly after the iPhone arrived in 2007, Ballmer famously laughed at the idea of a $500 phone that wouldn't appeal to business customers because it didn't have a keyboard. While admitting that it "may sell very well or not," Ballmer said he liked Microsoft's strategy a lot. We all know how that turned out.

Microsoft has continued to flirt with smartphones despite giving up on Windows Phone years ago. The company has most recently focused on its Surface Duo line of dual-screen smartphones, but neither of the two devices released thus far have gained much traction. Rumors suggest the Surface Duo 3 could be a true foldable with a flexible display, but it has been nearly a year since we've heard anything new on that front and bendable phones haven't exactly been flying off the shelves.

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If nadella actually believed that, he wouldnt have left the market. Double-speaking wanker.

Under is leadership, MS has burned through most of its consumer trust, leading to windows going down to 75% marketshare, with xbox in total shambles. I hope he continues, I'd love to see MS become a minority player by 2030.
 
I think windows phone was the best looking mobile OS and was a really big fan of it. The thing is, MS just got into the game too late to build a market share big enough to attract developers. It looked great, it was much more stable than Android at the time and it was fairly light weight.

If we could get a phone running on Windows S then it might make a comeback. Spydroid is pissing people off lately and iPhones never stopped being iPhones.

But at this point, my next phone is going to be running LineageOS when my S21+ finally kicks the bucket. Honestly surprised at this thing for lasting as long as it has, it's taken a beating and it keeps working fine. It's also completely paid for so that's the main reason I'll be said to see it go. Unfortunately, It has so much google and Samsung crap on it that even though the phone is paid for I don't feel like I own it.

 
Ballmer said his regret was missing out on mobile too. MS is incredibly strong. Gamepass should pick up after Blizzard acquisition.
Fun fact: MS has a higher credit rating than the USA!
 
There is no way Windows will succeed back then. Hardware were simply not ready for a chunky OS, such as Windows even if they trim down the bloat. I've used Windows phone before and the tiles concept was quite neat, but the experience is far from ideal when compared to the likes for Android. Fast forward to now, the bloat have increased, not the other way. So I am interested to see how well will Qualcomm's SD X Elite will perform.
 
Never liked the tiles as an interface. Too busy, and squares are not a great place to put little information snippets. The Android notification dropdown was a good invention and quickly became the standard.
 
There is no way Windows will succeed back then. Hardware were simply not ready for a chunky OS, such as Windows even if they trim down the bloat. I've used Windows phone before and the tiles concept was quite neat, but the experience is far from ideal when compared to the likes for Android. Fast forward to now, the bloat have increased, not the other way. So I am interested to see how well will Qualcomm's SD X Elite will perform.
It would have absolutely succeeded. It got to 5% marketshare within two years of launch into an already established market.

MS missed three things. First: every time they made an updated OS, it wasnt compatible with old hardware. Somehow, MS, the king of legacy, didnt understand why this was a BAD idea. To make matters worse, they kept changing crap in each version so you couldnt just have a windows mobile OS. Well, nobody is going to update multiple versions, which lead to the "no apps" problem, and nobody wants to buy a nice WP device if it will be abandoned faster then droids. (man remember when apple was class leading with 3 years of support?)

Second: they refused to pay google's ransom for their services. There is a good reason apple does this. MS thought they could be the 900lb gorilla, and sparked a feud that led to google intentionally sabotaging their products for MS specifically.

Third: they ignored the business users, who at the time were stuck with blackberry. MS was dominant in business and education, and they all wanted a way to manage mobiles. WP could have had active directory support, and EVERYONE wanted it. MS just said no. Just.....why? That was a huge deal! We didnt have MDM back then, it was such a H?UGE missed opportunity. Instead, by the time MS revisited it, Samsung had Knox, Apple had JAMF, and it was already a lost cause.

MS is a huge business, but one wholly dependent on their legacy support because they nuke all their modern stuff by accident.
 
It would have absolutely succeeded. It got to 5% marketshare within two years of launch into an already established market.
And all it took was buying Nokia for 7 billion dollars 😏

..and killing it in the process. Because few people actually liked Windows Phone. Pretty much mostly people who either hated Apple and Android for some reason, or were otherwise way invested into the Microsoft stack. Like Microsoft Certified IT guys.
 
And all it took was buying Nokia for 7 billion dollars 😏

..and killing it in the process. Because few people actually liked Windows Phone. Pretty much mostly people who either hated Apple and Android for some reason, or were otherwise way invested into the Microsoft stack. Like Microsoft Certified IT guys.
Apple hate is obvious, so no explanation necessary, but common Android??? The worst logic I have ever seen!!! After years of using it, I still can't get used to its logic- it simply is the most non-intuitive logic I've ever seen! And this from someone who's been in IT for over 40 years.
 
I used to love Windows Phone, used both the WP7.0 which was updated to 7.8 and WP8.0 phones.

death of Windows Phone was Microsoft's own doing. even simple communication apps like whatsapp and back then BBM was not immediately available on WP, while it was very quickly available on Android and iOS. a lot of other demanding apps and games were rarely available on WP, making them unattractive to many users.

but the icing on the cake is the very short lifespan of Windows Phone OS itself. Microsoft likes to shutdown things that doesn't work in its favor, the WP 7.x was the worst example of it. mind you most of the WP7 devices were flagship phones compared to its Android peers. having 16GB of storage in 2010 is a big deal, competing Android 2.1 (Froyo) devices often ship with only 2GB or 4GB of storage.

from a company that produces windows os, microsoft office and xbox. remember this was their own doing. they don't want to maintain it, but claims they made a mistake. what a joke.

also, just before windows 8 was launched, I remember whatsapp was still privately owned, and still requires users to pay annual fee of $1. that was long before meta (facebook) bought them. so microsoft could have bought it, they definitely have the juice for it. but microsoft probably thinks they're unimportant.
 
I would want a mobile device that can also hook to a monitor by wire, mouse and keyboard on Bluetooth.

But it has to run games that are on windows, not all of them but some favorites.

Have to run creative apps, like professional ones just to be really up to modern standards.

I am amazed smartphones this day are powerful enough in the digits but they can't do what an good old desktop machine can do with 10 times lower computing power.

People buy powerful iphones to run tiktok and Instagram, play candy crush and angry birds.
 
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