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Microsoft Cellphones

Bill Gates Says Windows Phone Strategy Was Inadequate 268

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-the-worst-thing dept.
puddingebola writes "Perhaps it isn't newsworthy, but Bill Gates has characterized Microsoft's mobile and smartphone strategies as 'a mistake.' From the article: 'In an interview with CBS This Morning's Charlie Rose on Monday, Gates admitted he wasn't pleased with Microsoft's performance in the mobile market, going as far as to characterize the company's smartphone strategy as "a mistake." "We didn't miss cell phones," Gates said. "But the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership, so it's clearly a mistake."'"
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Bill Gates Says Windows Phone Strategy Was Inadequate

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  • Not news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultrasawblade (2105922) on Monday February 18, 2013 @08:55PM (#42940373)

    I mean if the failing marketshare year on year since the iPhone came out didn't clue you in, maybe the KIN debacle would have, or certainly the fact that your marketshare is no better off despite practically owning a phone manufacturing company could point that out.

  • Re:big (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Howitzer86 (964585) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:11PM (#42940457)

    Anyone with a WinMo phone will tell you one of the biggest problems with them is the difficulty in finding apps that actually work. They would have an app store for it towards the end, but by then it was too late.

    My last phone was an HTC Touch Pro 2. In 2009 it was billed as an iPhone killer. Seems laughable in hindsight (and I'm not an Apple fanatic either, I'm a "M$ shill" according to some slashdotters.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:12PM (#42940467)

    A lot of it can be traced to Microsoft's bullying behavior throughout the '90s, when they (along with Intel) owned the digital platforms that mattered. Carriers, handset vendors, application developers, and technically savvy consumers remember that era and don't want to be bullied again. So just canning the EVPs and SVPs in charge of Windows Phone development isn't likely to change things. Getting rid of Ballmer and replacing him with someone who's not a 15-year Softie, now that might be perceived differently.

  • Re:big (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:17PM (#42940507) Journal

    Apple finally beat them.

    If it were not for IBM and only corps and engineers buying computers in the 1980s the Mac would have one easily. Most hipsters then did not care about computers at all and Bill got used to having a monopoly handed to him on a silver platter. It bit him in the ass later on.

    MS is very project manager dominated. I DON"T CARE SHIP IT ... attitude. There was no desire at all to ask why? Or what do people want? No thinner, save battery power, make it pretty, make the UI very geared toward mobile uses with research and usability studies to go with it. Just regular Xp with a pen and call it tablet edition in cheap plastic. Phones? Throw the start menu and put some win16 code to save development costs and put in crippled pocket editions and call it the day. Just get it out etc.

    Meanwhile Samsung is developing bendable glass while Apple and others are making exotic metals for their cases and special types of glass, custom arms for low power, and even API rewrites to lower power as well. Apple and Google make sure everyhing is pretty and icons and apps all twirl when you use it. Even the DPI is supperior than your desktop computer!

    MS is is just throw in a cheap battery with a $1.00 plastic mold in China and call it portable with digitizer. Windows 8 is finally getting things write ... only on the mobile end. But man it is so 2008 era right now. Windows 9 will need much catching up. Same is true with IE. They let that one rotted out until they got their ass handed to them by Mozilla and now Webkit. They are catching up but they have a long way to go.

    This comes to show you that being proactice and making the best product really does win in the end. Not being reactive.

  • Re:Uh huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:18PM (#42940513) Journal

    They've had sixteen or seventeen years to get the various iterations of MSN right, and after billions of dollars have still failed to show much for it. Sure, they've turned Yahoo from competitor into customer, but Google is so far ahead one has to question Microsoft's long term strategic capacity. Even the XBox division, while perhaps having some quarters in the black, is still a big hole that Microsoft shoveled money into to buy market share, and is many years away from ever paying back its investment.

    Microsoft has three major profit areas; enterprise volume licensing, OEM consumer licensing and Exchange-Office. It has made a shitload of money off of them, and while it's likely to lose the consumer crown pretty soon as the home PC begins to fade as a must-have computer product, it will still have the enterprise world locked up for some time to come.

    Frankly I think they should admit defeat on their mobile and tablet offerings, buy Blackberry, which at least still has some corporate penetration, and tighten the links between those mobile products and Office-Exchange. RT and Surface are still demonstrating just how much Microsoft is on the wrong side of the door trying to get in.

  • Re:big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:18PM (#42940521)

    Nobody wants their phone to be as reliable as Windows. They want it to work 24x7x365. When was the last time it was "ok" to have to reboot your phone. Microsoft makes neat toys and cheap PC software - but reliable and "applicance-like" in a way that a Mac or DVD player or a toaster is - they are not.

    It's kind of like why nobody buys the Chevy Volt - it's a $40k Chevy econobox. Chevy != high tech quality, that's what Toyota is for.

  • Re:big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pausanias (681077) <pausaniasx@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:19PM (#42940523)

    It's Windows. Everything had to be windows. They stuck to windows until the gamechangers (iPhone, Android) had market dominance... now is a little too late to switch everything over to Metro.

    The problem is, you can't just always be reactive. You have to lead at some point, with real innovation. And this company has simply never done that.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:22PM (#42940541) Journal

    I happen to agree with that.

    Will Bill Gates return then? I like the newer gentler Microsoft even if it is turning incompetent. If Bill was left IE would still have IE 6 crap in their on purpose to make it incompatible with everything else and .docx would be a drmed binary format with no OpenXML so no LibreOffice or GoogleDocs compatibility.

    He did the same tricks with SCO Unix before they sold it completely to make sure apps could not be ported. Balmer is too stupid to be this evil

  • by bunbuntheminilop (935594) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:24PM (#42940547)

    He says 'Microsoft made a mistake', not 'the Board didn't lead the company in the right direction'.

    Why do I get the feeling that he won't take any personal responsibility for the running of Microsoft?

  • Re:big (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teresita (982888) <badinage1.netzero dot net> on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:25PM (#42940549) Homepage
    It's Windows. Everything had to be windows. They stuck to windows until the gamechangers (iPhone, Android) had market dominance... now is a little too late to switch everything over to Metro.

    When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If Microsoft was a bit smaller, like Adobe, and only had Word going for them, they'd push out a Word Phone. Sell Word Tablets. Get Marky Mark to do their commercials, say, "Word Up."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:25PM (#42940557)

    You heavily promote a WP 7.5 product - the Lumia 900 - and not two months later you declare it to be incapable of running WP8. Good job of throwing WP7.5 users to the wolves. And they wonder why they're losing money...

  • by Duncan J Murray (1678632) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:28PM (#42940577) Homepage

    by a boggy mile, but it still wouldn't have sold. And that's because they've become a dirty brand - generally people use windows, not because they like it, but because they need to run particular software (office, business apps, games) or because they'd rather a mac but can't justify the expense. They have irritated geeks with their anti-competitive behaviour, and seem to be heading into an even more restrictive and walled-garden approach - but starting with the wall before really having a must-have product. These geeks are often the IT-support for friends/family with windows, and they're saying avoid microsoft unless you really have to. On top of all this, even among the general public, microsoft are not a cool brand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cX4t5-YpHQ, http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/12/08/12/1732248/msft-reaches-out-to-hackers-do-epic- [slashdot.org] ). All they've got left going for them is their enterprise image. The 'if you want a proper computer to do work on, you use windows' image. But with Metro, they are just about to throw this down the pan, too. They are doing what nearly cost Blackberry their business - not realising their sales to the consumer were based on their cachet selling to enterprise, and by chasing the consumer, they will lose both groups of customer. And, frankly, after all the dirty tricks they've tried, you can't say they didn't deserve it.

  • Re:big (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:30PM (#42940589) Journal

    Considering the lead Microsoft had in the mobile phone market, they were there in 2002 (before Blackberry, I believe), but somehow they never made it work. I'm not sure exactly why. It's actually surprising, not that they failed, but how big their failure actually is.

    They knew it was important, they tried to get the market, had a huge lead, and they failed. It's a little more than 'inadequate.'

    To me, it's not really surprising at all. It's the same reason planned economies fail. A wholly top-down approach fails a lot of the time. The sad part, from MS's perspective, should be not realizing where they could utilize their monopoly to extend into safer arenas with clear pathways that top-down market acquisition could be achieved. But, then, MS's movement into mobile phones was presumably precipitated by fear--ie, they did get the top-down view right that smart phones would be a major player in the future*. Fear is a great way to waste money and market share.

    *Then again, MS has thrown money at all sorts of ventures that may, in the future, be a major player. And only later, when the technology developed, was the market realized and by then MS had missed the boat. Meanwhile, its repeated attempts to leverage its "gems"--Windows and/or Office--have generally failed. Perhaps that's the real reason I'm not surprised that MS has yet another failure. Of course, most ventures in business are failures. It's just that most ventures that fail big close because they don't have tons of money behind them. Oh, and this applies just as much to Google, Apple, etc.

  • Re:big (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:56PM (#42940759)

    Considering the lead Microsoft had in the mobile phone market, they were there in 2002 (before Blackberry, I believe), but somehow they never made it work.

    Because Microsoft has no taste. It can't design for shit, and it never could. Thus we now have a situation where, in spite of Microsoft being "there in 2002", the iPhone business unit at Apple generates more revenue than Microsoft. Not the Windows Phone business unit - the entirety of Microsoft.

  • by Swampash (1131503) on Monday February 18, 2013 @09:58PM (#42940767)

    He may not run Microsoft, but he's the Chairman of the Board that CHOOSES the guy that runs Microsoft. And year after year, Microsoft's Gates-led Board reaffirms its faith in Ballmer.

    How's that worked out for them?

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:02PM (#42940789)

    Will Bill Gates return then? I like the newer gentler Microsoft even if it is turning incompetent. If Bill was left IE would still have IE 6 crap in their on purpose to make it incompatible with everything else and .docx would be a drmed binary format with no OpenXML so no LibreOffice or GoogleDocs compatibility.

    The reason Microsoft isn't doing this crap any more (at least not nearly as much) isn't because Ballmer is less ruthless than Gates was. It's because the European Union found the balls to do what the US antitrust authorities wouldn't, and actually effectively regulated Microsoft's worst anticompetitive excesses. Not only that, but an array of governments and large corporations got bit hard by Microsoft's lock-in as a result of the IE6 fiasco, so they made it clear that they weren't going to put up with any more proprietary nonsense like ActiveX. The whole reason why OOXML was created is that many government agencies insisted on an open and documented file format, and were about to switch to ODF if Microsoft had held the line on their opaque binary blobs.

  • Re:big (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sir-gold (949031) on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:33PM (#42940963)

    It's Windows. Everything had to be windows.

    This is probably the most important cause of microsoft's gradual downfall over the last 10-12 years. With each of their attempts to build a music player, an ebook reader, or a phone, every time an engineer would show his prototype to a manager, the first thing that manager would say is "thats neat, but how does it relate to windows?"

    Microsoft is a company that has poured billions into researching product diversification, while still possessing a complete unwillingness to actually diversify. It's kinda like a fat guy who buys all the Weight Watchers meals every week, but lets it all spoil and go to waste because he would rather eat delivery pizza and chinese takeout instead.

  • Re:big (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @10:52PM (#42941053)

    Anyone with a WinMo phone will tell you one of the biggest problems with them is the difficulty in finding apps that actually work. They would have an app store for it towards the end, but by then it was too late.

    I still have a winmo phone and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Do I miss not being able to run angry birds and facebook apps? I couldn't give a shit less.

    I can connection share, vpn, voice command, offline navigate, sd cards, manage files, sync contacts and crap that WP8 still can't do to this day.

    What I would not give for a modern mobile OS that was either not a locked down vendor orgy of control or didn't invade your privacy at every possible turn. The mobile space is a fucking joke so I'll keep my old joke of a winmo phone and like it.

  • Re:Like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrbluejello (189775) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:04PM (#42941113)

    This article title is WRONG. Windows Mobile had the problem, which is the predecessor to Windows Phone.

    Big difference, completely different platform.

  • Re:Like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dhavleak (912889) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:22PM (#42941233)

    Exactly correct -- but you're expecting too much of Slashdot, and too much of The Register.

    The exact quote from the interview is "Gates admitted the company didn't "get out in the lead very early" on cell phones. He said, "We didn't miss cell phones, but the way that we went about it didn't allow us to get the leadership. So it's clearly a mistake."

    i.e. He's saying they were there with Windows Mobile when the market was in it's infancy but Windows Mobile was clearly a mistake.

    But like I said -- you're on Slashdot. Don't expect logic to get in the way of an old-fashioned MS-bashfest.

  • Re:Uh huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:40PM (#42941291)

    I suspect their R&D department has all kinds of enthusiasm... right before the bean counters have their good shit shelved. It's a miracle the Kinect made it out the doors, and even then, they let a surprise HW hit collect dust.

    Remember the Courier? That thing would've been great, and they had a prototype ready before the iPad's dropped. Can you remember people actively petitioning for a microsoft product with "goddamnyou, here, take my money!"? Yeah, they let that die.

    Multitouch? They had that in the original surface, the table not that tablet, before the iPhone existed. Died.

    That place needs to start loping off heads, starting at the top.

  • Re:big (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Monday February 18, 2013 @11:41PM (#42941297) Homepage

    There is the big point. MS got in on the OS primarily because they were the only real choice for the PC when it came out and had a few years to get entrenched. They got Office in the door through their lock on the O/S.

    They haven't been able to get anywhere since because they aren't the only option. Nobody will put up with their general klunkiness, gaping holes, and crashiness.

    MS won't likely succeed like that again. They would have to get in first, ride on the coattails of a well respected entity in the market like IBM was to business in the '80s. It would have to be a product that most people wrote off as a mere toy for the first several years. And the killer for them, they would have to be a nobody so that their involvement wouldn't attract more technically capable and equally well funded competition.

    They got a once in several lifetimes opportunity and made the very most of it, but it won't likely happen again.

  • Re:Like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @12:46AM (#42941585) Journal
    So you think that what he's saying here is that they WERE lagging, but now that they have a commanding 3% global mobile share he's happy they're taking their market leadership to the next level? How... interesting.
  • Re:Uh huh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:28AM (#42941763) Journal
    The purpose of Microsoft Research is to patent every possible thing so nobody else can use it. Not to come up with some new compelling thing. It's about controlling innovation, not creating it.
  • Re:Like... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) * on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @02:03AM (#42941993) Journal

    Windows Phone is the solution.

    The solution to what problem? The problem as Microsoft sees it is that they're not selling mobile licenses and as we embrace the mobile future without them people - including important decision makers - are demanding cross-platform server side solutions and app interoperability to deliver business-critical line of business apps. That is a problem for Microsoft and nobody else. For the rest of us, the iPhone and Android and non-Microsoft solutions on the server side are solving this problem quite fine.

    Windows Phone might be a solution to this problem but it's a problem those of us who don't have a blue Microsoft badge don't have.

    BTW: they threw billions at XBox, not millions. They never did break even and now that it's time for another platform refresh they never will. All they did is cause stress for console vendors including Sony - who is also a Windows PC client partner.

    8-12% of the market is both unachievable and not worth trying for. It's niche. It has no leverage to control server side solutions, retailer shelf space, app developers, toolkit developers, carriers. 30% might give Microsoft the sway they need to succeed at acting how they're acting now: as the king of all they survey, shouting orders at a mass that is ignoring them - much like that dishevelled guy at the Greyhound station. It's telling that you think this is a height they might aspire to.

  • Re:Like... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @02:18AM (#42942059)

    Steve Ballmer Roams The Halls Of Microsoft Swinging A Baseball Bat

    Microsoft's history is filled with stories about its rough culture, from it's "stack-ranking" employee reviews to how Bill Gates used to yell, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." Here's another one: Six-foot-two Steve Ballmer sometimes brings a baseball bat with him into meetings, and that's if he's feeling happy...

    At the risk of invoking a sort of inductive-Godwin here, wasn't that a trick Al Capone used to do?

    Are you calling Bill Gates a thug? Good call.

  • Re:Ballmer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jader3rd (2222716) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @03:05AM (#42942257)

    At what point is Ballmer going to be held responsible any of the "mistakes" that Microsoft has been making? The guy is bulletproof beyond all logic for a publicly traded company.

    Maybe once Microsoft looses money for a couple of consecutive quarters. For a publicly traded company, they have a history of increased profits quarter after quarter.

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