He claims that the reason why Apple and Google effectively won the battle of the mobile operating system was that Vole was distracted by the antitrust case, Gates told the assembled throngs at the New York Times’ DealBook conference in New York.
“There’s no doubt the antitrust lawsuit was bad for Microsoft, and we would have been more focused on creating the phone operating system, and so instead of using Android today, you would be using Windows Mobile if it hadn’t been for the antitrust case.”
Gates’ comments also suggest that major antitrust cases against today’s other large technology companies could have negative market implications – which is sort of the point.
“Oh, we were so close”, Gates said about the company’s miss in mobile operating systems. “I was just too distracted. I screwed that up because of the distraction.” He said the company was three months too late with a release Motorola would have used on a phone.
Earlier this year Gates said that his biggest mistake at Microsoft was not having Windows become the dominant mobile operating system. “Now nobody here has ever heard of Windows Mobile."
Gates also said he would not have retired as soon had it not been for the US government case, which began in 1998. Gates started the company with Paul Allen in 1975, then stepped aside as CEO in 2000, letting Steve Ballmer take the reins as the antitrust case was at its peak.
Retiring earlier was probably good for him because he got to become more involved with his wife, Melinda, in the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he is a co-chair and trustee.
“I don’t have a life where I’m allowed to complain, because basically only 99 percent of things have worked out very well”, he said.