Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says allowing Google’s Android win the mobile space was his “greatest mistake ever.” He also pointed out that Android’s success may have cost Microsoft about $400 billion.
Talking to a venture capital firm called Village Global, Gates said, “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.”
“…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,” he explained while calling software industry a “winner take all market.”
Gates said that products such as Office have helped Microsoft achieve success. But had Microsoft got the mobile software right, it would have “the leading company” not “a leading company.”
“The idea that small differences can magnify that doesn’t exist for a lot of businesses. You know if you’re a service business it doesn’t exist. But for software platforms it’s absolutely gigantic. So, that’s partly where you have the mentality of every night you think am I screwing this up and eventually we did end up screwing one up.
Gates’ comments come at a time when Google is facing wide criticism over its data collection policies and how it handles users’ data. The company has also faced antitrust investigations around the world. Earlier this year, the European Union slapped $1.68 billion fine on Google for antitrust breach.
Google’s Android, however, is the largest mobile operating system in the world. According to stat-counter, Android holds 75.27% market share whereas Apple’s iOS has 22.74% share.
Microsoft did try to take on Android and iOS with Windows Mobile. In 2010, Microsoft launched the first version of the software as Windows Phone 7. The software, however, failed to take off with lack of OEMs embracing the platform. The OS also lagged behind Google in delivering the popular third-party apps. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced ending support for Windows 10 Mobile and asked users to switch to iOS or Android phones.