Bill Gates has revealed that he has “switched” to an Android smartphone, as Microsoft’s own operating system struggles to make an impression on a handset market dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.
“Recently, I actually did switch to an Android phone,” the Microsoft co-founder told Fox News on Sunday, adding that it has “a lot of Microsoft software” on it.
He didn’t indicate what type of handset he’s used in the past, but it’s unlikely it was an Apple device. He said he doesn’t use an iPhone, even as a backup device. “No, no iPhone,” Gates said.
Gates has famously banned iPhones and iPods at home in the past, although he called Apple co-founder Steve Jobs a “genius” in the interview.
Gates’ choice is in line with Microsoft’s own strategy of making its software widely available on iOS and Android devices, and even selling a customised version of Samsung’s Galaxy S8 in its US retail shops.
The ‘Microsoft Edition’ S8 includes applications such as Office, Outlook email and the voice assistant Cortana preinstalled.
Microsoft currently positions its smartphone platform as a branch of the Windows operating system, which also powers desktops, laptops, tablets and other devices, but Windows accounted for fewer than 1 percent of worldwide smartphone sales last year.
The company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, said in a May interview Microsoft was planning to continue to make handsets, but in the meantime was concentrating on selling its mobile services via “first class” software on iOS and Android, while “looking for what’s the next change in form and function”.
Windows’ share of smartphone sales continued to decline in spite of its 2014 acquisition of Nokia’s handset business for $7.2 billion (£5.5bn), leading it to lay off thousands of former Nokia engineers.
“I’m sure we’ll make more phones, but they will not look like phones that are there today,” Nadella said in the May interview with Marketplace.org.
In a 2013 interview with CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, Gates, then Microsoft chairman, admitted the company’s early mobile strategy was “clearly a mistake” since it “didn’t allow us to get the leadership”.
In July of this year Microsoft officially ended support for Windows Phone, the predecessor to the current Windows-powered smartphones.
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