Bill Gates has revealed that he thinks everyone would be using Windows Mobile right now if Microsoft hadn’t have been caught up in a US Justice Department antitrust investigation. Speaking at The New York Times’ DealBook Conference earlier today, Gates revealed his thoughts on Microsoft’s mobile mistakes.
“There’s no doubt that the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system and so instead of using Android today you would be using Windows Mobile,” claimed Gates. “If it hadn’t been for the antitrust case… we were so close, I was just too distracted. I screwed that up because of the distraction.”
Microsoft’s messy move from Windows Mobile to Windows Phone allowed Android to thrive, but at the time the company had the biggest opportunity in mobile and gave it away. Gates also revealed that Microsoft also missed the opportunity to launch Windows Mobile on a key Motorola handset.
“We were just three months too late on a release Motorola would have used on a phone, so yes it’s a winner takes all game,” explained Gates. “Now nobody here has ever heard of Windows Mobile, but oh well. That’s a few hundred billion here or there.”
It’s not clear which Motorola handset Gates is referring to, but Motorola launched its Droid range of Android-powered smartphones 10 years ago, and they were a big hit. Verizon and Motorola’s push in the US really helped Android succeed, just when Windows Mobile was struggling.
This isn’t the first time Gates has reflected on Microsoft’s mobile struggles. Earlier this year, Gates called losing to Android his “greatest mistake ever,” admitting that the loss was worth $400 billion.
Google acquired Android for $50 million in 2005, and Windows Mobile was the company’s primary target. Former CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that Google was “very concerned that Microsoft’s mobile strategy would be successful,” during a 2012 legal fight with Oracle about Java. Android successfully killed Windows Mobile and Windows Phone off, and has become the Windows equivalent in the mobile world that even Microsoft is now adopting.