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Cnet reported the other day that Microsoft has placed an app, Seadragon, in the Apple AppStore, even before releasing it on the Windows Mobile platform because, get this, the iPhone is the only phone platform with the graphics chops to handle the application.

There is such delicious irony in all this of course, the kind that make a writer like me stand up and rub his hands together with glee. Microsoft, the company that gets so upset at the Get A Mac ads that make such well-deserved fun of Vista, releases advanced technology to Apple users first because Apple offers superior technology to handle it.

Seadragon: Up Close and Personal

Seadragon, according the App Store description, lets you "browse large quantities of high-resolution imagery." What's cool about it is that you can do what's called deep zooming, which lets you go to incredible zoom depths, while maintaining crystal clarity without a hint of pixelization.

The free app includes several nice examples that demonstrate the potential of the technology including sophisticated photos and mapping technology, not unlike Google Earth, that lets you continuously zoom down to a location on the map (although it does pixelize at building level). These examples are apparently only a starting point and could lead to much more refined applications as the technology develops. The folks at Microsoft's Live Labs, who produced this app deserve a big virtual pat on the back for what they have done.

Apple is Superior Technology...again

But when you see advanced technology from Microsft released to Apple customers first, you have to ask yourself 'what's wrong with this picture?' (pun intended) When asked by the Cnet reporter why Seadragon had been released to just the iphone, Alex Daley, group product manager for Microsoft Live Labs, told reporter Steven Musli:

"Most phones out today don't have accelerated graphics in them. The iPhone does and so it enabled us to do something that has been previously difficult to do."

I have a hard time understanding how Microsoft can have people working on such advanced technology on one part of campus, but haven't coordinated with the folks at Windows Mobile to be working with handset manufacturers so that this technology could run on its own mobile platform. While Microsoft surely should be proud of the advanced technology developed by the Live Labs team, the fact that it only runs on the handsets of its biggest corporate rival is laughable and once again, opens them to ridicule when they should be using this as an example of its own superior technology.

Perhaps this is also a sign that companies can become too large. They get to the point where one hand doesn't understand what the other is doing, where they lack coordination among units. Further, they lack the speed and agility to react to changing market conditions and even when they are ahead of the field as they are this time, they are left at the mercy of their biggest rivals. It is bitter irony indeed and must be a bitter pill for Microsoft to swallow.

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