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Bill Gates says letting Google launch Android was his 'greatest mistake'

Chelsea Ritschel

Bill Gates may be one of the most successful tech entrepreneurs of all time, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made some career errors.

According to the Microsoft founder, who spoke at an event hosted by Village Global, there is one mistake that he still regrets – and it was allowing Google the opportunity to launch Android.

Discussing how “the software world, in particular for platforms, are winner-take-all markets”, Gates said: “The greatest mistake ever is the... whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is.

“That is, Android is the standard phone platform - non-Apple form - phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win.”

Gates then elaborated, adding: “It really is winner take all. There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what’s that worth? $400bn that would be transferred from company G to company M.”

Despite the error, the billionaire tech founder said Microsoft is still “very strong”, but had it not been for his mistake, it would be “the leading company” instead of “a leading company”.

Earlier in the conversation, the 63-year-old discussed the sacrifices he made regarding his work/life balance when first starting out, which included not “believing” in weekends or vacations.

Since then, Gates has relaxed his mindset a bit, revealing that once he’d reached his 30s he could “hardly even imagine how I had done that”.

“Because by then, some natural behaviour kicked in, and I loved weekends,” he said.

Google acquired Android in 2005 for at least $50m (£39m). According to Forbes, Gates is the second-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $102.9bn (£81bn).