Bill Gates Admits Microsoft Mobile Mistakes

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Ex-boss says Microsoft’s early strategy was flawed and is ambiguous on Steve Ballmer’s future

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has admitted the company made some mistakes in its early mobile strategy and declined to give current CEO Steve Ballmer his full backing.

In an interview with CBS, Gates said that although Microsoft did not miss the advent of the mobile phone, it didn’t go about it in the way that would have allowed it to assume leadership in the market.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile once controlled the second largest share of the smartphone market, second only to Nokia’s Symbian, but Apple and Google are now the two largest players while Microsoft has struggled to make an impact with its new Windows Phone platform.

Bill Gates interview

SamsungATIV-SThe latest version, Windows Phone 8, was released last October and has made strong gains in countries like the UK and Italy, but still trails far behind iOS and Android in overall market share. Last week, Microsoft chief financial officer Peter Klein said that the company had no ‘Plan B’ for its mobile strategy and that it was going to work with its hardware partners to improve its fortunes.

When asked about Steve Ballmer, Gates refused to criticise his CEO but did not give him a full vote of confidence, simply stating that he and Ballmer were two of the most self-critical people that he knew. Gates instead preferred to point to Ballmer’s achievements since he took over in 2000, including Windows 8, the Microsoft Surface, Bing and Xbox.

There have been suggestions that Microsoft is currently stagnating under Ballmer’s leadership and there have been calls for him to step aside.

Former employee Joachim Kempin has published a book that claims Ballmer uses bullying tactics to eject anyone he deems to be a threat and that he must be removed from power if the company is to remain competitive in the technology industry.

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