Microsoft’s Decision to Axe Windows 10 Mobile Is a Masterclass in Adaptability
Bill Gates’ powerhouse company is totally fine with cutting what doesn’t work–and you should be, too
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Microsoft is known for its successes. (That little suite called Microsoft Office that thousands of businesses use comes to mind, for example.) But sometimes, even a heavy hitter like Bill Gates' company can't get any contact with the bat and strikes out horribly. That's apparently the case with Windows 10 Mobile. The company's Windows 10 chief, Joe Belfiore, announced earlier this week via Twitter that, while Microsoft still will support companies using the operating system, developing new features and hardware for it won't be a focus at the company anymore.
Why abandon the OS?
Mobile is inarguably the way of the world--2017 data from Pew Research Center indicates that 3 out of 4 American adults (77 percent) own a smartphone, noting that individuals are using them for everything from shopping to finding a date. But as Leo Kelion of BBC reports, Windows 10 Mobile accounted for a measly 0.03 percent of the global market. That, combined with the fact consumers generally preferred the experience they had with Android and iOS, spelled out Windows 10 Mobile's demise.
Toss the OS, do better things
As Kelion notes, Microsoft's decision to get rid of Windows 10 Mobile doesn't necessarily mean that Microsoft is abandoning the idea of powering smartphones altogether. But in a nutshell, it embodies a key principle every business leader needs to understand.
When there's dead weight tied around your company's ankle, cut the chain.
For Microsoft, that's all Windows 10 Mobile has become. Dead weight. By listening to consumers (which by itself is a major win) and saying good riddance to the OS, the company frees up resources to develop something better within the smartphone arena, or to simply funnel into markets that aren't yet so disgustingly saturated. For example, Microsoft could focus on deep learning, precision farming, drones or even brain-computer interfaces.
It's not always an easy call, figuring out the point at which a product is doing your company more harm than good. Part of the reason for this is that feelings tend to get tied up in the choice. After investing so much, it can be agonizing to let one of your business babies go.
But that's where metrics become so vital. They can show you if there's some growth and potential to hope or whether your return on investment is on par with your target. If the metrics say you're getting dragged under or that the project is a waste, don't just keep tossing money into the I-want-it-to-work fire. Get out, rethink and start over.
Because here's the thing. Starting over isn't bad. It just means taking a new direction. Maybe it's not the path you planned to take, but maybe it's the path you should be on. Microsoft gets that. It's willing to adapt and shift on its heel. It's one of hundreds of companies--for example, Ben & Jerry's, PepsiCo, Cosmopolitan and even Toshiba--that has missed the mark, often to the tune of millions of dollars. Those companies survive because they understand that it often takes many failures before the spin of the wheel delivers a jackpot, and because they're willing to forget the last spin to move forward to the next.
So be brave. Drop the rocks weighing you down. Pivot. That's the center of innovation, no matter what industry you happen to be in.