(The name originates from the UK terminology of "the high street shops", meaning "the town center stores" and similar to the US "main street". "High Street" is the no. 1 street name in the UK.)
They added a search page that was a nice rival to Google.com and Microsoft's then Windows Live Search, and even entered into partnerships with the stores featured on the streets, including Schuh (a big UK shoe retailer):
|Superhighstreet spread far and wide – the founder was even interviewed on the BBC|
On 1 August 2006, and after Superhighstreet went live, they contacted the Group Manager of Microsoft's "Seadragon" project, Blaise Agüera y Arcas, who at the time was developing a neat photography (not mapping) product called "Photosynth". Superhighstreet thought there might be some crossover and some room for them to exchange technology and do business together as both their products involved stitched imagery. Superhighstreet was used to doing business with high level firms via a previous company, which had done deals with the Virgin Group, and the UK's top 'high street' retailers for a previous invention.
A different one of Microsoft's Group Managers replied the very next day:
He explained that Superhighstreet had some things in common with something called "Streetside" that Microsoft's sister company, Virtual Earth, was working on. He provided a link to the "Live Labs" for that similar product, which looked like this at the time (2006):
|Microsoft Streetside in 2006 with its non-horizontal street view|
|Superhighstreet's map man|
|Microsoft Street Slide in 2010 with its 'brand new' horizontal method|
"...A single panorama ... does not allow you to get an overview of a complete street. Zooming in to look further down the street exhibits severe foreshortening and loss of resolution. Jumping from bubble to bubble [like Microsoft's 2006 preview] moves you down the street but still does not provide context.
We present our system which we dub 'Street Slide' ... enabling efficient browsing of building facades ... Street Slide was found to be significantly more efficient than Google's Street View ... We use this space [above and below the streetscape] to add informational and navigational aides. The turn sign provides affordances for turning to see the other side of the street. Finally, storefront logos or graphics can be displayed below the strip. In the lower-right corner you see a mini-map. The center circle corresponds to the current location.
Street Slide provides both an informative and immersive experience for exploring streetside imagery..."
|The 4 main similarities highlighted:|
Horizontal scrolling streetscape, map, 'cross road' button, store logo banners
|"Why the change?" Microsoft explain it's just better this way - the way Superhighstreet showed them in 2006.|
|They feel Superhighstreet was 'combining the street level images to form the [horizontal] street view image' in 2005|
|In their opinion Superhighstreet had a 'metadata panel' (map that moves according to the GPS of the street view) 'below a bottom portion of the street view image' in 2005, as did it 'send the street view image to a client device', and so on|
|In their opinion Superhighstreet had a 'navigation user interface object to navigate the street view image in response to control directives' in 2005|
|The Superhighstreet 'navigation user interface' still live here|
|Streetside seems to struggle on Google Chrome|
- 2005: Superhighstreet launches unique horizontal streetscapes
- 2006: They reach out to Blaise Agüera y Arcas at MS Photosynth
- 2006: A colleague replies about non-horizontal MS "Streetside"
- 2007-9: Blaise Agüera y Arcas moves from Photosynth to Streetside
- 2010: MS patents horizontal streetscape, announces radically new horizontal Streetside
- 2012: MS applies for 2 more patents. None reference Superhighstreet.
|1. Microsoft Streetside before Superhighstreet|
|3. Microsoft Streetside after Superhighstreet|
"We have investigated your claims internally and believe that they are inaccurate and legally unfounded." – Michael Brick, Senior Attorney, Microsoft
What do you think? In your opinion, did Microsoft steal this startup's idea?