Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Windows, Joe Belfiore, has today clarified the company’s stance with Windows 10 Mobile and what it’s currently doing in the mobile space. In a series of tweets on Twitter, Belfiore states that as an individual end-user, he has switched to Android, and that Windows 10 Mobile is no longer a focus for Microsoft.
To me, this remains the second-biggest business story of the 21st century (the debut of the iPhone, tied directly to this story, is the biggest.) It is shocking how Microsoft was the biggest and most influential software maker of the last 35 years and yet completely missed the boat on mobile. Their mobile OS strategy is now completely dead.
Let that sink in: the mobile revolution happened, and Microsoft is only a surface-level player. They make apps and provide services for mobile operating systems and hardware which is not their own.
In hindsight, Steve Ballmer’s 13 years as CEO of Microsoft marked one of the most catastrophic missed opportunities in the history of business. Microsoft had all of the incentives, resources, and experience it needed to put together a compelling competitor to the iPhone in 2007. Case in point, after the iPhone debuted, Google immediately changed gears and shifted Android from a Blackberry competitor and into something that looked a lot more like an iPhone.
From 2007-2010, Microsoft continued to fumble around with Windows Mobile 6.5 and eventually Windows Phone 7. They did not understand or appreciate what was happening to the market which they themselves had created.
Microsoft never managed to bring to market a mobile product which was compelling enough for consumers to purchase in enough numbers that made the platform compelling enough for developers. I think Windows 10 Mobile could have been that product, but it came five years too late.
Satya Nadella has done an incredible job pivoting Microsoft into a focus on services, entertainment, and hardware. But imagine what could have been! Instead, today Bill Gates carries an Android…