SAN DIEGO -- The man least likely to root for a Microsoft rally is now the company's biggest cheerleader.
Esteemed venture capitalist Marc Andreessen told the developer audience at Qualcomm's Uplinq conference here that the entire technology industry should be rooting for Microsoft's success in the smartphone wars.
Earlier this week, Microsoft purchased Nokia's phone business in a $7.2 billion deal meant to infuse life into its Windows Phone platform. The deal has been derided as a last-ditch effort to gain mobile market share -- but don't count Andreessen as one of its critics. Instead, he seemed to advocate for the buy. "It's not that expensive of a deal," he said, joking that, for Microsoft, buying Nokia was like saving candy money for a few months.
Price aside, Andreessen wants Microsoft to do well in mobile for the good of the industry. With Google and Apple as the only commanding forces in the mobile operating space, the industry needs Microsoft to succeed to keep competition alive and well, he reasoned.
Andreessen also encouraged developers to build applications for Windows Phone. With Apple and Google's application marketplaces housing an ocean of apps, there's a small-fish, big-pond problem, he said. "Developers have to find a new platform," Andreessen said, adding that their apps have the opportunity to stand out on Windows Phone. "Microsoft will put substantial support behind developers because they need them."
The pro-Microsoft perspective is an interesting one considering Andreessen's past as the co-founder of Netscape, which became the target and eventual victim of Microsoft and its Internet Explorer browser.
Water under the bridge? Perhaps.
The inherent unpredictably of our business makes it exciting and interesting, Andreessen said.