Microsoft held its annual shareholders meeting earlier in the week, and according to Bloomberg, one important shareholder had a lot to say about Microsoft’s current strategy in mobile.
Steve Ballmer, the previous chief executive of Microsoft and its single largest shareholder, said Windows phone “needs Android apps,” and questioned current CEO Satya Nadella’s response to a question on the lack of key apps on Windows phones.
Nadella said that allowing developers to build universal apps that work on computers, tablets, and mobile is the company’s strategy to gain developer’s interest. Ballmer disagreed with his point.
He also vented about the way Microsoft reports its cloud business, stating that the company needs to disclose its profit margins and sales. He called the run rate — what Microsoft use as the metric to report its cloud business — “bullshit.”
It is odd to see Ballmer all of a sudden switch his opinion on mobile, considering during his tenure as CEO he mocked Android. However, Android has become a much more usable and relevant platform since 2011 when he made those remarks, so pushing for integration is not a bad suggestion from the ex-CEO. In fact, it’s a strategy that BlackBerry has embraced, opening up its BB10 devices to Amazon’s Android Appstore and even making its first Android phone, the Priv.
Microsoft has been working on Android integration for a while, but that project appears to be on hold. A range of Nokia devices were also released shortly after the $7.2 billion Microsoft acquisition, running a customized version of Android with Microsoft apps.
Windows Phone is the third largest mobile platform in the world, but that doesn’t mean much since it holds less than three percent market share. iOS holds around 20 percent, and Android takes the lion’s share with 75 percent. That might force Microsoft to look into either integration, or a full move over to Android, similar to BlackBerry’s new mobile strategy.