Bill Gates says Microsoft losing to Android was his 'greatest mistake'

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"$400bn that would be transferred from company G to company M".

Gates, speaking at a forum in Washington, said Microsoft would be even more valuable if it had won the battle over operating software for mobile devices against Google and its Android platform. "But oh well." Microsoft is now the most valuable company in the world, with a market cap of $1.05 trillion, but it vies for the top spot with Apple and Amazon.

The billionaire philanthropist said mobile phone software was a "natural thing for Microsoft to win", but his own "mismanagement" meant Google was able to grab a larger market share of the mobile phone market.

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Many would point to Steve Ballmer as the reason Microsoft didn't take Apple's iPhone seriously, famously laughing at it, seeing it at the time as an overly-expensive phone that had no appeal to business users because it lacked a keyboard. It really is winner-take-all, if you're there with half as many apps, or 90% as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. He went on to say one of the "greatest mistakes" he's ever made was giving Google the opportunity to launch Android.

"There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system", he said, "and what's that worth?" However, Gates feels that in addition to being a leading company, Microsoft could have been "the company", had it executed in mobile.

"We were clearly the company that should have achieved that, and we didn't", he said.

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"There is this idea that just small differences can magnify themselves". "I knew everybody's license plate so I could tell you over the last month when their card had come and gone from the parking lot".

But he said Microsoft and other big software firms also erred in allowing Amazon to become the leading cloud computing firm though its Amazon Web Services platform. And so that's partly why you have the mentality that every night you think, 'Am I screwing this up?'.

Bill Gates recently appeared in an interview with the Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julia Hartz where they discussed startups, and the necessary tough decisions that need to be made in order to establish a company.

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