Every plan comes to an end. Sometimes it’s because that plan has failed, sometimes it’s because the plan has changed, and sometimes its because the plan has succeeded.
The later is the case with Satya Nadella’s retrenchment plan for Windows Phone, started almost 2 years ago.
The new Microsoft CEO was never a fan of Steve Ballmer’s last-ditch efforts to save Windows Phone by purchasing Nokia’s handset division and in July 2015 announced their plans to write off the value of their Nokia purchase and lay off tens of thousands of phone-related employees.
At the time Microsoft claimed to be “committed to our first-party devices including phones”, but never followed this up with real action, cancelling the 2014 Windows Phone flagship and releasing yawn-inducing handsets in 2015 and absolutely nothing of note in 2016.
With phone revenue down another $730 million in the last quarter, Microsoft has now, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, confirmed that there is now virtually no more money left in the phone business.
@thurrott Yep. MS' GM Investor relations Chris Suh just said to me there's effectively no revenue in the phone segment, at this point.
— Mary Jo Foley (@maryjofoley) April 27, 2017
Paul Thurrott also confirmed that the phone business is set to wind down “by the end of the current fiscal year” ie June 2017.
With Microsoft seemingly putting Windows 10 Mobile development in maintenance mode, it seems clear that the Windows Phone market itself will be going down with Microsoft’s ship.
Which only really leaves the autopsy to answer the final question – Did Satya Nadella murder Windows Phone, or was it really just a mercy killing following years of mismanagement by Steve Ballmer?
My own conclusion in short, drawn from over 20 years of watching Microsoft’s mobile efforts, is that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer was primarily to blame, firstly due to not understanding the need for the mobile web, secondly for kowtowing too much to the needs of carriers and enterprise (both mistakes Blackberry made) and lastly for trying to replicate the iPhone when that ship had sailed already. By the time Satya Nadella took over the writing was already on the wall, the patient was in terminal decline, and would have died anyway, after a more protracted illness.
Do our readers agree, or do you feel Microsoft should have persisted in throwing good money after bad and tried to make a go of building a sustainable business in Europe for example?
Let us know your thoughts below.