Bill Gates Describes Microsoft's Early Smartphone Efforts as "Clearly a Mistake"
February 18, 2013 3:10 PM
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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 (
) titular station, Microsoft Corp. (
) co-founder and
Bill Gates discusses his
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. (
) and Apple, Inc. (
), 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'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
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
in the top spot,
vocal as ever
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Windows 8 Phone is great
2/20/2013 7:51:43 AM
third-world Android users
You summed it up perfectly. With phones available across all price ranges, inevitably, not everybody is buying or able to buy a Samsung Galaxy 3 or a Note 2 (the nearest thing to an iPhone equivalent in terms of processing power, and standardisation of platform for Android) and has a correspondingly lower expectation of what app and games can do. When I bought an S3 and moved from iOS I was shocked at how few decent games there were that could use the device properly and show it off, considering how much it cost. Needless to say, I bought an iPhone 5 when it got released and am still using it happily as my main phone.
The fact that games are able to be downloaded by users with less capable phones then run really badly or crash constantly probably doesn't endear the platform to them based on their experience. If you read any reviews for even something like Temple Run 2 on the Google Play Store, there are loads of people that appear not to even be able to run it. I knew there had to be a reason that whenever I see somebody with an Android phone on the underground, they are playing something incredibly basic like match the colours or something.
This could still impact iOS badly though, as developers might target low end Android devices as their preferred lead platform based on their volume, then iOS and high end Android devices would all suffer the same crappy experience.
Since the poorer users cannot be so easily monetised, they hold little appeal for developers at present, but Tony you shouldn't assume this status quo will always be in place as country's economies rise and fall. Whilst I do not disagree with your analysis of Apple's financial performance right now, how will this be impacted when every Android device looks like an iPhone in all but name (BB Z10 and HTC One for example already steal the look and feel of iPhone5's chamfered edges and segmented back) but has higher functionality. At this point, power users, aka early adopters and innovators start to migrate to the Android Platform, some of which will be developers. Apple's financial model then starts to unravel as there are no longer the users to buy the phones and the content, because their device is no longer as desirable. Apple needs to do something to make iOS desirable once again, and I'm not talking releasing a retooled Podcast player or an app to order gift cards...I'm holding out for Jonny Ives revamp of iOS's look and feel personally, but won't hold my breath based on their recent missteps.
RE: Windows 8 Phone is great
2/20/2013 9:48:49 AM
Great I'm happy you prefer your iphone 5, please send me your galaxy s3
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
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