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Leadership

The Greatest Mistake by Bill Gates Cost Microsoft $400 Billion

"We missed being the dominant mobile operating system by a very tiny amount," said Bill Gates.
The Greatest Mistake by Bill Gates Cost Microsoft $400 Billion
Image credit: Facebook/ Bill Gates
Entrepreneur Staff
Features Editor, Entrepreneur India
4 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

We are always under the notion that successful people who have risen to the top have hardly made any mistakes. So it is obvious to believe that business magnate and principal founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, the world’s second richest person doesn’t have much to look back in past and repentance about. But let us tell that you are highly mistaken. 

With a net worth of $107 Billion, the man does come with his own baggage and certainly regrets one mistake. Speaking at a forum in Washington, Gates admitted that his biggest mistake ever was to allow Google to develop Android before his company could come up with another mobile operating system (OS). 

Today, Android is Apple’s biggest competitor in the smartphone industry. Talking about it further he said, “That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win,” he said. But being a true businessman, he blames himself for missing on the opportunity and his poor mismanagement. He feels he didn’t guide his team to jump and make the best of the opportunity. 

One of the major reasons Microsoft missed the opportunity to be the dominant player in the smartphone market was that it was distracted lengthy antitrust battle with US authorities in 1998 during the antitrust battle with the US Authorities, which gave Google the time to go ahead. 

He feels that Microsoft today would be more powerful if they haven’t lost the battle over against Google and its Android platform over the mobile OS. "We were in the field of doing operating systems for personal computers. We knew that mobile phones would be very popular," he said.

When Google acquired Android in 2005, they came up with their first smartphone in September 2008. A year before Apple launched its first iPhone on June 29, 2007. There is always room for another major player. So Android became the competitor to Apple’s operating system and the net worth of that market is $400 billion.

Gates knew that mobile phones would become popular and he regrets to have not appointed the best people as they were distracted by with their antitrust trial. 

“These are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft to not be what Android is,” he said. He further said if Microsoft would have made that one move right they would be the top technology game.

“We would be the company. But oh well,” he said. Android today is the huge asset for Google and he says that they missed on the chance despite having the skill sets. 

What’s amazing is to see Gates being vocal about his mistake, a quality that many entrepreneurs and people who aim to make it big should look up to. He also said how Microsoft and other software company’s misjudgment made Amazon the leading cloud computing firm because of its web series platform.  

"It is a surprise and it's a huge credit to (Amazon CEO) Jeff Bezos and his team that they got out in front and with AWS did the best cloud product. Today Microsoft is a strong number two... (but) there are many companies including Microsoft that should feel bad" in failing to get ahead of Amazon in the cloud,” he said.

 “It’s amazing to me, having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time...our other assets — Windows, Office — are still very strong. So we are a leading company,” he said.

Microsoft still has a strong hold with the highest market capitalization of over $1 trillion and Gates credits the present chief executive Satya Nadella for achieving it.  

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