Thursday, June 27, 2019

Bill Gates’ Mea Culpa

Joe Rossignol:

At a recent event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global, highlighted by TechCrunch, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lamented on losing to Android, calling it “one of the greatest mistakes of all time.”


Gates added that there is room for exactly one non-Apple mobile operating system, which is certainly the case as of today.

Carolina Milanesi:

Microsoft’s performance was linked primarily to the enterprise market and only indirectly to the consumer market.


With the rise of the iPhone and Android, Microsoft did not look at mobile in a conceptually different way from PCs. Mobile was just another “channel” for its license and software business. It certainly did not represent a new opportunity to rethink engagement with consumers so that “Windows was not just something they used, but something they loved” as Nadella said many years later. So, being where Android is today was not as natural as Bill Gates makes it sound because the battle strategy was fundamentally flawed.


What we have not seen with enough clarity is how Microsoft will use Cloud and AI to focus on consumers.

Update (2019-07-16): John Gruber:

But I’m fascinated by the way he phrased the opportunity that Google seized with Android: to be “the standard non-Apple phone platform”. It’s just assumed in his thinking that the iPhone would have been the iPhone no matter what. Historically, that sounds bananas coming out of Bill Gates’s mouth.


If not for U.S. v. Microsoft, though, I wonder whether Gates would’ve chosen to drop Office for Mac and let Apple wither. I’m not saying anyone could have or should have predicted the iPhone and Apple’s dominance of mobile profits all the way back in 1997. Nobody really predicted what the iPhone would be in 2007, even. But if Microsoft had an inkling of what the iPhone would become, and where Android would come in and take over as, in Gates’s own words, “the standard non-Apple phone platform” by fast-following the iPhone’s basic all-display, all-multitouch design, maybe they’d have thought differently about helping Apple recover in 1997. With no Office 98, there might not have been an Apple to even make the iPhone in 2007.

Tim Holmes:

Office for Mac was a big deal, that can’t be overstated, but don’t forget the patent sharing agreement, the precedent without which the MS/Apple phone patent agreement would never have come about.

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