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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Success stories with copycat software

Hello again Friends,

In this thread, I'd like to hear if any of you had a success with copycat software, be it desktop, mobile or web based. Please as well provide stories when you disrupted an already saturated market.

For instance, have you succeeded in making disk defragmenters, Registry or RAM optimizers, video conversion tools, DVD burners, USB tools, Bejeweled or Zuma game clones, etc... ?

Thank you!
exim Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
Supplemental question. If you have succeeded commercially  by ripping off someone else's hard work, do you still have any self-respect?
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
That's a little harsh, Andy. What browser are you using? Was it the first browser on the market? The same question can be repeated for many types of software.

The OP's title is bad, but the body of the question suggests simply going after a saturated market.

@exim: A better question would be what are the major competitive differentiators for products that have succeeded in a saturated market.

For most products (both software and non-software), companies try to compete on Cost, Delivery, Quality, or brute force Marketing. Competing on cost is a losing tactic, IMHO. Competing on delivery is viable if you can bring a desktop product to the web or mobile. Brute force marketing only works if you have the money or existing platform to leverage off of.

The biggie is quality. If you are going into a saturated market, can you create new features or provide a simpler to use interface?
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
@Nicholas

Yes. I originally meant going after a saturated market.
I'd be grateful if the moderation could change the title.

Although, the ripping-off success stories would be as well interesting, if anyone wants to share :)
exim Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
"That's a little harsh, Andy. What browser are you using?"

Related question - has anyone here on this forum other than myself ever paid for their browser?
Scott Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
>What browser are you using? Was it the first browser on the market?

I think there has been plenty of innovation in the browser market in recent years. Some convergence is inevitable given that they are solving the same problem and conforming to the same standards. But I wouldn't call Chrome or Firefox copy-cats or clones of other products.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
>I originally meant going after a saturated market.

But you did use the word "copycat" (twice) and "clone" (once), which conveys something altogether different.

We all build on the work of others. But that isn't the same thing as wholesale copying/cloning.

>I'd be grateful if the moderation could change the title.

We can't edit posts.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
@Andy

Right, I made a semantic mistake. E.g. I was thinking about an yet another disk defragmenter software as a copycat...
exim Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
>> "has anyone here on this forum other than myself ever paid for their browser?"

Yes, Netscape when it cost around $70.
Wyatt O'Day Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
> But I wouldn't call Chrome or Firefox copy-cats or clones of
>other
>products.

In reply to Andy, Google's Chrome uses Apple's WebKit which in turn uses the fast HTML renderer from the web browser Konqueror.

Apple did a lot of work on WebKit. It supports multimedia, HTML5, CSS and a hell of a lot more.

Apple produced an Open source fast JavaScript compiler.

After Apple released it, Google started work on their own JavaScript to machine code compiler.

I have done a little JavaScript work and I've found the exact same bugs in Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome.

Google at the very least produced their own user interface for Chrome.

I'm sure Google have done a lot of work.

But and this is a big but, Google used Apple's WebKit which is a huge piece of a web browser. WebKit is the HTML, CSS renderer. It supports multimedia.

Yes, Google have done some work. But a large proportion of it was due to them taking Apple's nicely prepared, reusable WebKit. WebKit is very much Apple's creation.

Google do say their contribute to WebKit, but really they are Johnny come latelies if anyone studies the contributions and timelines.
DontTreadOnMe Send private email
Monday, October 21, 2013
 
 
> has anyone here on this forum other than myself ever paid for their browser?

Yep.  Opera for the PC when it wasn't free.
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
 
 
Can we get back to the original author's question rather than discussing the choice of words?

We had success with several products that aren't 100% innovative (for example an email autoresponder software). We don't copy UI and don't even watch too much the features of the competitors because our development is driven by user's feedback.

However for the 1st version I definitely look at what others do before deciding on a list of features that will be included. And most of these features are (politely said) inspired by the products already in the market. Add to this a few entirely own ideas and you may end up with something good.

On the other hand I've built 5 - 6 entirely innovative (I though so!) projects and almost were total disaster.
handzhiev Send private email
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
 
 
"Can we get back to the original author's question rather than discussing the choice of words?"

That seems premature. The OP's question was phrased in such a way that it's not clear at all what we are really talking about here.

To me copycat software means you are cloning another person's work. Zynga is a company that does this. They wait for a company to make a game that is getting traction, then they exactly clone gameplay, and they hire artists to clone the artwork in such a way that it just barely isn't a copyright violation in such a way that it probably is a copyright violation, but they spend a lot of their money on lawyers so the poor innovator they ripped off would have a costly time pursuing these bastards.

The people that do this don't have my respect and if we are talking about this practice - of actually ripping off other people's work - then to hell with these people, and let's talk about that instead.

But it seems we might actually talking about just entering into a market that has competitors and producing a better product, one's own take on the problem space. That's a good thing and that's part of how society progresses.

Yes, there is a gradient from one to the other. There is definitely a line that is crossed, and the word that is used to describe this line is "copycat" software. So the choice of words here is pretty darn important.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
 
 
IP law was created to prevent companies like Zynga from doing what they do.

It takes hard work and rare skills to come up with new and innovative products that improve people's lives, whether directly such as by bringing water to a tap rather than having to use a bucket, or allowing the removal of red eye in family photographs, or even just to chill out playing a game and relaxing without having to smoke opium to calm down from a bad day.

The sort of invention and innovation that advances society never comes from giant teams doing teamwork working for the big corporation. It comes from artistic and talented individuals. Big corporations and certain among the rich who are no talent pinheads don't like that though. Why shouldn't they get all the profit, all the credit, all the glory, and all the available health care and energy in the world, while the actual innovators get a boot smashing in their human face forever? The no talent pinheads like that future a lot better, as they are carried about on a litter by a pack of busty slave girls, being fed peeled grapes in return for their non-contribution to humanity. People like Jeff Zuckerberg, and whoever the moron is who is at the top of Zynga.

So we have IP laws to protect the little guys from the talentless predator corporations that just want to steal their cool thing and then leverage their market position, marketing engine, and team of bloodlust driven attorneys to  dominate the market. Zynga is a perfect case study of how this goes down and how destructive. Whatever happened to each of the innovators who came up with Zynga's stolen loot originally? They were utterly crushed and ruined that's what! And thus everything goes to shit as all the innovators are ripped off and destroyed by companies which are basically pedophiles. You've heard of sociopathic corporations, yes that is the first level. But then the corporation graduates to greater deprecations, and becomes the pedophile company. The company that preys on the young and defenseless, takes their innocence, and destroys their life.

Companies like Zynga are filthy vile predators with no redeeming value whatsoever. Their board of executives would all be sent to prison if there were any justice.

The IP law system is severely broken in that it is simply not working to assist the little guys, and is instead misused by the predators in the pursuit of their demonic goals.

Perhaps reform is possible. If not that, revolution. Or simply to walk away from participation in an abusive society. Keep your secrets, or spend your time working in your garden and traveling rather than inventing super cool and awesome stuff.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
 
 
Typo: I meant to type depredation (plundering) when I typed deprecation (disapproval). Nuts how those are spelled practically the same and mean totally different things.
Scott Send private email
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
 
 
I agree with Scott and Andy that the language was so off base (and, let's be frank, suggestive of that's *really* what the OP meant, at least at some level of representation in his mind) that it was worth sort of hijacking the thread over to that discussion.

Of course, this is not a problem of software only.  Stand up comics rip off each others' jokes; web pages plagiarism rampantly, scientists scoop each others' projects, etc. 

And Scott is right that there is a continuum from "copycat" to "competitor with integrity".  I've seen some software that is similar to something I was trying to make and they--inevitably--came up with an angle I hadn't thought of.  Should I include that feature, too, in my software?  Something of an ethical question for me.  In the end, my software would take a rather different approach, generally, from theirs, and would have a different look n' feel...but some features are just screaming out to be wildly seen in the application ecosystem... For example, back buttons on browsers.  So, is Opera including a back button "copycatting" Netscape Navigator or whatever it was way back when?

(Don't get me started on *patenting* these sorts of things...like Amazon's one-click patent)
Racky Send private email
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
 
 
"all the innovators are ripped off and destroyed by companies which are basically pedophiles" -- WTF?  Such companies are child sexual predators?
PSB136 Send private email
Thursday, October 24, 2013
 
 
Who uses an Altair 8800 for their computer?  Who uses Wordstar as their word processor?  Who stores their data on 8" floppy disks?  Who uses Visicalc?  Who programs in ALGOL 68?

Who travels by air in a Wright flier?  Who listens to music on Edison wax tablets?  Who writes on papyrus with a quill pen... or clay tablets with a pointy stick?

If you do not, you're using "copycats".

The essence of capitalism - actually any system of progress - is that new innovations can be brought to the marketplace, that improve on existing products/services.  Often the innovations don't succeed, often the innovations are minor or marginal, but over a period of time... products and services get better as a result.  We progress.  Early entrants to a marketplace have to continuely improve their own offerings, if they want to maintain their position.
S. Tanna Send private email
Saturday, October 26, 2013
 
 

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