Microsoft’s innovative Photosynth technology, which can be used to create and share immersive 360-degree panoramic photos, landed on the iPhone today.
But Windows Phone 7 owners, arguably the users that Microsoft should be bending head over heels to please, are still waiting for their own Photosynth app.
Microsoft’s decision to prioritize iPhone development for Photosynth is indicative of a bigger problem that it’s facing with Windows Phone — is it better to deliver cool technology to the bigger iPhone audience, or make it exclusive to Windows Phone?
I’m a fan of Windows Phone 7’s design and overall polish, but it admittedly doesn’t have much in the way of killer apps. If Microsoft delivered Photosynth to WP7 first, it could have served as something to inspire pangs of jealousy in iPhone and Android owners. That’s a strategy that Google has been employing with Android, which features updated versions of Google Maps with 3D buildings and extensive voice controls not available to iPhone users.
There’s also a third option Microsoft could have considered: release Photosynth on both Windows Phone and iPhone at the same time. That way Windows Phone users don’t feel snubbed (which many do, according to comments across the web), and Microsoft gets to take advantage of the iPhone’s larger user base.
The Photosynth iPhone app lets you upload your panoramic creations to Photosynth.net, Bing Maps and Bing local business listings, so it’s something of a Trojan horse for Microsoft. The app also stacks up well against 360 Panorama, the current king of iPhone panorama apps: Photosynth offers higher resolution images, full 360-degree capture, as well as more ways to share your creations.
Microsoft first showed off Photosynth in 2006 as a way to stitch together multiple photos to virtually visit famous locations — for example, you can see the results of a Photosynth made up of 396 photos stitched together around the Statue of Liberty. Microsoft is also working to bring live video into Bing Maps using Photosynth, according to a TED demo from last year.
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