The mobile industry is almost exclusively made up of iPhones and phones running Android, but things could have been very different had Microsoft not dropped the ball. That’s something co-founder Bill Gates knows all too well and he says that his company let a place in a $400 billion market slip through its fingers by allowing Google’s Android to be the only competition to the iPhone.

Gates said that the lack of a competitive alternative from Microsoft was down to his own mismanagement of the situation and that it was his “greatest mistake” during a conversation with venture capital company Village Global. That conversation was picked up by The Verge.

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. 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.

Candidly, Gates admitted that it was his mistake that Microsoft was not the biggest company on the planet in 2019, with its lack of a presence in the mobile world holding it back.

“It’s amazing to me that having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time, and there was this antitrust lawsuit and various things, that our other assets like Windows and Office are still very strong, so we are a leading company,” says Gates. “If we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company, but oh well.”

Google originally feared Microsoft’s involvement in the mobile market rather than Apple’s, something that seems crazy nowadays. Microsoft had multiple runs at turning Windows into an operating system suited to phones but ultimately, its lack of apps killed it.

(Via: The Verge)

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