The company had a mobile plan, the chairman says, but not one that gave it leadership in the industry

Microsoft erred in mobile strategy: Bill Gates

Bill Gates says he’s not satisfied with the pace of innovation at Microsoft Corp. and that the software company’s mobile strategy failed to secure a lead in the industry.

“There’s a lot of things, like cell phones, where we didn’t get to lead early,” he said in an interview with CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose.

The interview focused on the Microsoft founder’s thoughts on innovation and how Gates and his wife Melinda are using technology in the philanthropic efforts in poorer nations. However Gates, who remains chairman of Microsoft after stepping down from his day-to-day role in the company five years ago, also spoke about his company’s efforts to compete in the fast changing mobile device market led by the likes of Apple Inc. and its iPhone and iPad products and Samsung with its Android-powered smart phones and tablets.

“We didn’t miss cell phones, but the way that we went about it didn’t allow us to get the leadership,” Gates said. “So it’s clearly a mistake.”

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Microsoft introduced the Windows Phone 7 operating system in 2010 in an attempt to place a stake on the mobile market but the campaign failed to capture smart phone users’ hearts mainly due to lack of third-party apps, the OS’s very different user interface and low carrier support.

Last September, Microsoft launched Windows Phone 8 but according to comScore Inc., Microsoft phones only won 3.6 per cent of North American smart phone users. comScore’s latest numbers in December 2012 show those numbers slide even further to 2.9 per cent.

Microsoft hopes to reverse those figures with the help of the recent release of new low-end and high-end Windows Phone devices from its largest smart phone partner Nokia. Phone manufacturers LG and Asus are also expected to roll out Windows Phone 8 devices in a few weeks at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Analyst firm IDC says Windows Phone is closing in on BlackBerry and could become the third most popular smart phone OS in the world.

IDC said worldwide shipment of Windows Phone devices for the last quarter of 2012 grew by 150 per cent.

Despite this, Windows Phone still accounted for just 2.6 per cent of the worldwide market last years, way behind Android’s 70.1 per cent and the iOS’s 21 per cent.

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