In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, Microsoft has released its first application for Apple's iPhone – and it's not available on its own Windows Mobile platform.

CNet spotted the release of Seadragon Mobile by Microsoft's Live Labs on Sunday. Designed as a lightweight, mobile implementation of the Seadragon technology which powers the Photosynth 3D photo gallery system, the free application – available from Apple's App Store – allows images stored on the Internet or on the Photosynth service to be quickly browsed via a 3D accelerated 'deep-zoom' system which allows the viewing of images far larger than the iPhone can handle alone.

What makes the application unique is that the company has released it for a rival platform before making it available on its own: indeed, according to comments from the company it could turn out to be an iPhone exclusive. Alex Daley, group product manager at Live Labs, told Seattle-based tech news site TechFlash that the iPhone's 3D accelerated graphics engine “enabled us to do something that has previous been difficult to do.

While this is Microsoft's first foray into the world of the iPhone, it's not going to be its last: the company also has a voice-activated search system in the wings which is likely to be released for the iPhone and BlackBerry platforms in the next few months under the name “Tellme.”

Do you think that Microsoft should be concentrating on applications to further its own mobile platform, or is it good to see the company admitting that sometimes competitors can come up with a decent product? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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