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Bill Gates’ biggest mistake changed the tech world forever

Bill Gates is still sore, folks. Sore that Android dominates half of the mobile landscape and Microsoft has been reduced to a mere app provider for the big two.

In the Microsoft co-founder’s mind, the misstep with Windows Mobile/Phone at the advent of the smartphone era was the biggest mistake of his long and storied career as a tech pioneer. He believes a spot battling it out with Apple for smartphone supremacy was Microsoft’s to claim.

In an interview with VC company Village Global, Gates admitted that “the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is.”

Gates said Microsoft missed the opportunity to be the non-Apple OS, of which there could only be one. He reckons that market would have been worth $400 billion to Microsoft today.

Related: Best Android phones 2019

“There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system,” he added (via Engadget). “Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you’re there with half as many apps or 90 percent as many apps, you’re on your way to complete doom. There’s room for exactly one.”

Microsoft had phones running on Windows as far back as the turn of the century, but following the dawn of the iPhone and the touchscreen era, the company dropped the ball massively.

The firm’s efforts to counter the emergence of Android floundered and, although the arrival of the Windows Phone operating system promised a change in fortunes, Microsoft was never able to rival the third-party support and open nature of the Android ecosystem.

The company ended up buying the Nokia brand for a whopping $7.6 billion, a deal which pretty much sealed the fate of the former CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft eventually wound has down its operating system efforts and now settles for ensuring mobile versions of its desktop apps and subscription services are widely available on iOS and Android.

Microsoft made $7.4 billion in the last quarter, so consider that before you start crying a river for old Bill.