Photosynth team explain their iPhone first decision: “ we needed … low-level device access”
Blaise Aguera from the Photosynth team have explained on his personal blog why the team decided to go iPhone first before Windows Phone 7.
Iâ€™m sure over the coming days and weeks weâ€™ll be answering, over and over, the â€œwhy didnâ€™t this ship first on Microsoftâ€™s own phoneâ€ question. Our approach to the design of the Photosynth app hopefully provides some evidence that we very much think of Windows Phone 7 as brethren and inspiration, not to mention proof that Microsoft can make beautiful things. (Such a joy and a relief, after the previous generation of Windows phones!) If we could have shipped first on these devices, we would have. But the level of camera and low-level algorithmic hacking needed to make Photosynth work meant that, if we wanted to get this out as quickly as possibleâ€” and we surely didâ€” we needed to do so on a platform that provided the necessary low-level device access. Windows Phone 7 doesnâ€™t yet allow this for apps. It will soon. Itâ€™s worth keeping in mind that the first several generations of iPhone device and OS wouldnâ€™t have allowed us to build this app either. For now, iPhoneâ€™s platform maturityâ€” and of course the large number of people with iPhones out thereâ€” meant that it made sense for us to go for it.
At Bing weâ€™re always interested in reaching as many people as possible, which means weâ€™ll always develop for multiple platforms. But over time, weâ€™ll be doing more and more of our early innovation on the Windows Phone.
In summary then, maturity and depth of the API and audience size, the expected answer and it is clear we will not see this app on Windows Phone before Mango is released.
I am personally however still left unsatisfied. While I can accept in the bigger scheme of things Bing is as important as Windows Phone 7 in securing Microsoftâ€™s future, I would not place Photosynth on the same level, and would suggest Microsoft is helping Bing very little by making Photosynth first for iPhone and of course hurting perceptions around Windows Phone a lot more.
While we can understand an iPhone user at Microsoft working in a small team and trying to push his project forward would be eager to get his app out, I believe this episode underlines the lack of coherence from Microsoft, where different fiefdoms act independently and only for their own immediate benefit, rather than the good of the company as a whole.
In short, Microsoft needs stronger leadership.