Down but not out: Microsoft's CEO admits company missed the mobile phone, discusses future

Down but not out: Microsoft's CEO admits company missed the mobile phone, discusses future
By today, it's no secret that Microsoft's venture into mobile phones hasn't been exactly stellar. The company had high hopes back when it acquired Nokia's mobile division, hoping that it would use the fame of the Lumias as a perfect vessel for its own mobile Windows operating system. However, Windows-toting smartphones just failed to launch. Lingering around having only about 3% of the market share, it was tortured by a lack of interest by developers to build apps for it and a few buggy updates, which caused many to turn away.

Earlier this year, Microsoft effectively called it quits on building phones — it sold the rights to the Nokia smartphone brand to HMD Global, which is a partner of Nokia Technologies. So, in other words — Microsoft just "gave the name back". It then also sold the manufacturing facility it used to build Nokia feature phones in to a Foxconn subsidiary. As the deal was announced, Microsoft said that it will continue to develop Windows 10 for mobile and will keep supporting 3rd party manufacturers who build Windows phones. While the statement didn't say it directly, it implied that Redmond is done with building handsets.

This Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared at the opening dinner for the Wall Street Journal's WSJDLive conference. There, he admitted, probably for the first time so openly — “We clearly missed the mobile phone, there's no question”. But the company hasn't lost its drive to look for new categories to develop for and become an industry leader in. For example, Mr. Nadella said that he sees great potential for VR and AR in the nearby future. And yes, we do know of Microsoft's HoloLens — a pretty impressive set of augmented reality hardware that looked really cool when Microsoft presented it last year. However, it's still in development. Funny enough, Nadella mentioned that HoloLens could be the beginning of an ultimate computer, based on a sort of a mixed reality. We sure hope he isn't thinking SkyNet here.

Of course, the Microsoft CEO also took the time to honor the fact that despite their lack in popularity, Windows 10 phones do have their place in the market as niche devices that fulfill specific needs. "We have a phone that in fact can replace your PC", said Nadella, referencing the Continuum feature, which allows us to use a high-end Windows 10 smartphone as a basic Windows PC. And we have to agree — surely there are professionals out there right now who are enjoying the feature.

source: Mashable



1. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I really want WP to succeed, iOS and Android duopoly is getting boooooooring.

2. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

WP is dead already. Get over it.

5. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Last time I checked 3% != 0%

12. TerryTerius unregistered

It is not literally dead and it's impossible to completely rule anything out. That said, it is extraordinarily unlikely Windows phone is ever going to become any kind of threat to the dominance of android and iOS in the consumer market. It makes a ton of sense that they seem to be shifting more towards the enterprise side of things when it comes to their phones, and putting their energy towards other technologies that may prove to be more fruitful/impactful down the line. They've already lost billions on WP, and personally I'm happy to see them focusing their considerable resources on other things. Not because I think badly of WP, but mostly because I would rather see them focusing on the future instead of a party they missed out on. There are a lot of smart people working at Microsoft, I want to see what their vision for tomorrow looks like.

16. sgodsell

Posts: 7574; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Globally it's at 0.8%, not 3%. Sales last quarter of only 2 million for WP/W10M devices might sound like it's a lot. However in the same time frame over 343 million smartphones sold. So yeah, it's officially a niche platform in mobile. Developers are not flocking over to make apps for it.

19. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

For a while there it overtook ios in some countries. Germany, poland, Italy... But MS is the one that killed it all off. I'm sure they have their reasons. MS is up to something no doubt. Even the big banks are all of a sudden starting to add support including wallet app. It has insane potential and MS is working on finishing up the OS. Finally they are starting to put more focus on the mobile part of the OS. My guess is even if they focus on enterprise they still need the OS to be fully functional and feature packed by mid 2017 when they plan to announce their new enterprise focused devices.


Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

WP is dead......WM is alive! Phones with Windows were roaming this earth long before Google and Apple and MS will not give up that easily! Btw MS sold the feature phone division and not the entire smartphone this article is a bit misleading!

3. rkoforever90

Posts: 475; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

true i still keep one as my back up phone ilike the metro u.i over anything , sad to see it go.

6. mthaX

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 22, 2016

Even if they succeed , it would be still be boring. We need individuality. IOS own their own ,Samsung,Sony ,Lg,Google and the rest of those irrelevant manufactures should have their own OS. Am bored of using Android , switching to IOS is not a option

13. TerryTerius unregistered

That's easy to say, but the reality is there wouldn't be that much of a point to that. The power of iOS and Android is in their marketplaces. There is a reason that there have been no *global* successful challenges to Android and iOS. Developers have very little reason to invest their time and energy into small platforms that may not ever take off. The only company that has really launched its own marketplace in recent years would be Xiaomi, but in that case they benefited from Google's absence in China and suppression of foreign tech companies in general.

11. GreenMan

Posts: 2698; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

I, for one, also want WP to be "THE NEXT BIG THING"... I want Windows 10 Mobile to be in The Game; As a "genius man" once said: "For the sake of 'choices'..." Who is this "genius man", you ask...? Our good ol' "Meanest Genius"... Whereas I'm the "Greenest Genius"...! (Nah, forget it... I'm NO genius... Definitely Green though...) Oh well... I don't think the story of WP and WM is going to change anytime soon... And I sure would HATE to see it going down the pipe ala Blackberry 10 OS... And like I said earlier; Oh well... G'Day!

15. MrAnonymous

Posts: 95; Member since: May 25, 2014

Me toooo! I simple love the simplistic ui and beautiful animations of windows phone..!

4. Ezio2710

Posts: 548; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

'company Missed the mobile phone' lol...replace M with P

7. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Microsoft are happy just collecting Android patent royalty and develop mobile apps. I think there a miss opportunity. Microsoft could build custom Android handset much like what Amazon is doing. With their enterprises suits they could easily compete with Samsung and other OEM. There also a sizable Microsoft fan base they could leverage on. Of course I would be great if they could contribute key Android component much like Samsung Knox or Sony theme engine to the Android ecosystem.

8. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

The reason why Microsoft give up on mobile. It's more profitable just collecting Android patent royalty and develop mobile apps. Supporting another unsuccessful platform cost them billions with no foreseeable return. Fan may hate them for not but forgot that all business exist to make money not supporting fandom.

9. jfrschnell

Posts: 4; Member since: Sep 24, 2016

Well... Back in the day Nokia was still able to sell Lumias. Not as much as iPhones, Samsungs and so on but was still selling and had some relevance. MS just lost a good chance to add up their name to this race. This should be an example of how to throw away money. What happened to the their Zune player is the same of what happens to the phone. Those investors of Nokia now laugh out loud. At least they made some bucks.

10. raiter

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

Meaning, ... he said nothing. Could be good, if MS tell, that starting from date X "nend Windows Phone:", and "never again". It could be painful but much more honest to all loyal Win10phone customers. Otherwise, there is no clear vision, what about the Win phones after year or two.

14. RichardWD

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 25, 2016

My wife and I have had Windows phones for years. A month ago, she purchased a discounted iPhone 6 Plus, and I'll be getting a Moto Z Force as soon as they run some discounts on them. The reasons for dumping the Windows platform are (1) limited selection in new phones - we are seniors with diminishing eyesight and want large screens, and (2) no new app support, in fact, some apps that we have are shutting down. Lack of enthusiasm killed the OS.

17. KingSam

Posts: 1505; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

So the elite x3 cost $800. But a OnePlus 3 $400 and buy a $400 laptop. Way more logical G'day!

18. Pureviewuser1

Posts: 161; Member since: Mar 28, 2016

Yeah sure like what they're doing with Skype very supportive (sarcastic) stop supporting the opposition and be loyal to us windows 7 8 and 1o users

20. blattlaus

Posts: 75; Member since: Dec 12, 2010

The reporting at PhoneArena really needs to improve. 1. Microsoft did not sell the rights to the Nokia name for smartphones to HMD Global. They sold the rights for the name on FEATURE phones. 2. The right to use the Nokia name on smartphones reverted back to Nokia automatically in 2016. Nokia then licensed their name for use in smartphones and tablets to HMD Global. It did not give the name back and in fact had stopped using the Nokia name in branding well before it reverted to Nokia. I also makes sense they no longer wanted to make feature phones so they sold that. Feel free to criticize MS for the mess they made of their smartphone strategy, but at least get the facts right.


Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Amen to that! PA always talks BS about MS.......PA at least do some proper research and get your facts right!

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.