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The Windows Mobile era took a heavy toll on Microsoft's mobile efforts

In a new candid interview with CBS Corp.'s (CBS) titular station, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder and famed philanthropist Bill Gates discusses his former company's struggles in the mobile era.  Microsoft today accounts for less than 5 percent of the smartphone market, according to most estimates.

For a time, Microsoft held nearly a quarter of the fledgling smartphone market (circa 2004).  But it failed to keep up with rivals like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL), sticking for years with the increasingly dated Windows Mobile platform.  In November 2010, Microsoft launched a new operating system, Windows Phone, which was ambitious but lacked strong third-party hardware support.  Today Microsoft is still struggling to sell the market on its latest mobile OS -- Windows Phone 8.

Bill Gates in the interview calls Microsoft's former cellphone strategy "clearly a mistake", remarking, "There's a lot of things like cellphones where we didn't get out in the lead early.  We didn't miss cellphones, but the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership."

The tech icon says that both he and current CEO (and close friend) Steve Ballmer are both incredibly "self-critical".  He comments, "He [Ballmer] and I are not satisfied that in terms of breakthrough things that we're doing everything possible."

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer's company has struggled in the mobile era, since Mr. Gates' retirement.
[Image Source: SFGate]

Mr. Gates expressed confidence, though, that it's not too late for Microsoft to claw its way to a significant mobile market share.  He's a big fan of Windows 8 and Microsoft's Surface tablet.

Microsoft is reportedly aiming to unify the Windows and Windows Phone platforms under one consistent set of mostly overlapping APIs and user interface themes, to allow users to feel more comfortable with both form factors, and to help developers save time deploying cross-platform apps.  The first unified release, Windows Blue, may land late this summer.

The revisions are also accompanied with some big leadership change.  Windows President Steven Sinofsky was driven out and new rising stars are taking his place at the company.  Some investors have called on CEO Ballmer to step down, but for now Mr. Ballmer is hanging tight in the top spot, vocal as ever.

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RE: Kin
By datdamonfoo on 2/18/2013 4:05:56 PM , Rating: 5
A great featurephone destroyed by Verizon's greed?

RE: Kin
By Mitch101 on 2/18/2013 4:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
Id vote you up on that. The reviews for the device were good the Verizon plan you had to take didn't make sense.

RE: Kin
By TSS on 2/18/2013 5:25:30 PM , Rating: 2
Great features or not, wikipedia lists availability of the kin as may 2010 while the iphone was released in 2007.

Meaning when the iphone craze was in full swing, microsoft decided to launch a phone in the blackberry style, or the style of the craze 3-4 years ago at that point, with a full qwerty keyboard. While the iphone 1 already had a screen that doubled as a keyboard, which ment the screen was much larger when you didn't need that keyboard.

I'm sorry but while the phone might have had great features, the greatest feature of all that all succesfull smartphones have had since the iphone was missing, 3 years after that feature was revealed.

If it was simply the carrier's greed that made it fail, *all* smartphones would fail. All smartphones cost 40%-50% more when you buy them with a subscription instead of pre-paid, yet almost everybody prefers to buy the subscription over waiting or just not buying a smartphone.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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