It’s taken years for him to come out and say it, but Steve Ballmer, the outgoing Microsoft CEO, has admitted that the company missed the boat when it came to getting ahead in the smartphone race under his leadership.
Speaking at an analysts meeting in Washington, Ballmer stated that Microsoft has almost “no share” in the smartphone market thanks to his decision to focus the company’s efforts on Windows computers.
“I regret that there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we weren’t able to redeploy talent to the new device called the phone,” said Ballmer.
“That is thing I regret the most. It would have been better for Windows and our success in other foreign factors.”
As a result, Microsoft sit in a distant third place behind Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone in the smartphone market, with the Windows Phone platform accounting for just 3.7% of the global smartphone market according to IDC figures. Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone enjoy a 79.3% and 13.2% share respectively.
However, Microsoft’s smartphone star is rising, with the Windows Phone OS’s adoption growing 77% of the last year to overtake rivals BlackBerry and (now Microsoft-owned) Nokia’s Symbian. As a result, Ballmer sees “upside opportunities” for further growth among smartphone fans.
“We have the tools. There’s economic upside here. In the long run, we are almost uniquely poised to seize the opportunity,” he said.
“Today I’m speaking as an investor. You all own Microsoft stock, cheer for it, for God’s sake.”