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Former Microsoft Chief Software Architect on why Microsoft isn’t a significant player in mobile, and how that can be changed

Former Microsoft Chief Software Architect on why Microsoft isn't a significant player in mobile, and how it can change that

Microsoft’s desktop operating system rules the market. Over 90 percent of the world’s desktop and laptops are running some version of Windows. However, same can’t be said of Microsoft’s Windows Phone. So what exactly kept the company from being a leader in mobile space? At the Code/Mobile conference, Ray Ozzie had a few answers.  

Former Chief Technical Officer and Chief Software Architect at Microsoft, Ray Ozzie, was with the company from 2005 to 2010. It was under his watch, that the company could have, and arguable, should have started working on mobile. So why didn’t Microsoft do it? When asked by veteran journalist Walt Mossberg on why Microsoft isn’t a significant player in mobile, this what Ozzie had to say:

“Every large company who has a successful product has to deal with the notion of — as things move forward — how do you balance the potential disruption with the stream you’ve got…. It is kind of like bundling of products. There are times when things are best together, and they can take advantage of each other, either be vertically integrated or distribution leverage, partner leverage. And there are times when the complexity becomes overwhelming, and it slows you down because you can’t react as quickly to things that are happening in the external environment.”

Sure. But then why is the company still struggling to make a significant dent in the mobile market? Ozzie blames the developers, but says it is not completely their fault either. These developers have a “certain number of calories to devote to building something.”

This is an understandable issue. Why would a developer make an app for a platform that doesn’t have that many users? It makes financial sense for them to make apps for iOS and Android platforms. Ozzie points out that even if a company today launches a mobile platform which is as good as iOS and Android, it still won’t be enough to succeed. This is what Ozzie had to advise to Microsoft.

“The core fundamental thing that they need to do is be relevant with developers again and be relevant with users,” said Ozzie. “There’s a combination there.”

Well, Ozzie is just stating the obvious. The real question for Microsoft is that how it becomes relevant. How does a company lure in developers to make apps for its mobile operating system. 

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