Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Regrets Killing Mobile Division, Reflects on Missed Smartphone Opportunities

New Delhi | Updated 01-03-2024. 3:36 pm IST

  • Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, reveals regret over killing the mobile division.
  • Former CEOs Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer also express remorse for not prioritizing the smartphone market.
  • Microsoft acquired Nokia’s mobile device segment in 2013, but eventually discontinued Windows Phone.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has expressed his biggest regret during his tenure –– the decision to discontinue the company’s mobile division. Nadella opened up about this in an interview, citing it as one of the most challenging choices he made as CEO. He believes there could have been ways to reinvent the category of computing between PCs, tablets, and phones, indicating missed opportunities for innovation.

This sentiment of regret regarding mobile ventures is shared among Microsoft’s former CEOs as well. Bill Gates once acknowledged losing out to Android as the company’s “greatest mistake ever,” while Steve Ballmer expressed remorse for not prioritizing the smartphone market earlier due to focus on other projects like Windows Vista.

The regret stems from Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile device segment in 2013, valued at over €5.4 billion. This move was seen as a significant boost for Nokia and a bold step into the feature phone market for Microsoft, aiming to deliver integrated software and hardware solutions.

Windows Phone, born out of this collaboration, debuted at MWC 2010 with the Nokia Lumia series running on Windows. Despite initial excitement, the platform faced challenges over the years, with dwindling user and developer interest leading to its discontinuation in 2017.

As Windows Phone faded, competitors like iOS and Android surged ahead, leaving Microsoft’s mobile aspirations behind. In 2016, Microsoft sold Nokia’s phone operations to HMD Global, a Finnish subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group, signaling the end of an era for Nokia’s mobile legacy.

Meanwhile, HMD Global, nearing the end of its contract with Nokia, has announced its own HMD-branded smartphones, indicating a new chapter in the Finnish company’s smartphone journey. The recent showcase of HMD-branded devices at Mobile World Congress 2024 hints at future innovations in the smartphone market.


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