Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been reflecting on his time with Microsoft recently; this includes the largest accomplishments that he’s had a hand in. However, he’s also looked at some of the mistakes and missed opportunities that he had with the company. Speaking to Village Global, a venture capital firm, he notes that missing out on Android may have been his largest missed opportunity.
During the interview, which you can see below, he claims that the non-Apple mobile market was a “winner-takes-all” situation. In Bill Gates’ 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.”
In the interview, Gates also noted that there’s only enough room in the market for one non-Apple platform. While Microsoft had the opportunity to capitalize on this, it didn’t:
“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.”
Google purchased Android back in 2005 for $50 million and expanded it into the largest mobile OS on the market; its only real competition is Apple. However, Bill Gates wasn’t the only person at the company to fail in seeing the opportunity; former CEO Steve Ballmer laughed when the iPhone was initially released, claiming it wouldn’t be successful. At the time he called it “the most expensive phone in the world,” and ridiculed it for not having a keyboard.
Bill Gates & Microsoft Moving Forward
The company also missed the mark on the touch-friendly market that was beginning to grow at the time. This played a part in Microsoft missing out on the then-emerging scene. Currently, it looks as though the firm is trying to break back into the mobile market; Microsoft is working on a mystery project, of which Bill Gates is reportedly involved.