By the authors of Threes, a truly excellent, Letterpress-quality iOS game that was quickly and brutally ripped off en masse.
Ripoffs are very hard to deal with, emotionally. I talked a lot about my battles with my own emotions over being ripped off in my XOXO talk last fall, but I still haven’t won those battles — it still bothers me how much The Magazine and especially Instapaper were shamelessly ripped off by their competitors.
I’d make something original, and as soon as I released it, it would be rebranded by the press and public as a generic category of apps such as mine. Read-later apps such as Instapaper. It frustrated me deeply, but it happens all the time. Remember how quickly the iPad became “tablets such as the iPad”, years before there was any real competition?
Once your product is perceived as a generic category and competitors start rushing in, the value of original innovation is lost. If you actually bother to create something original of value in a hot business, everyone will rip you off so quickly that you get very little advantage from it, with zero repercussions to the clones, because nobody cares except you.
And I was never ripped off as rapidly as Threes or any popular iOS game these days. The modern App Store game environment is brutal. The biggest, realistic solution to the problem would be for Apple to remove the Top charts from the App Store, but I think it’s clear at this point that Apple doesn’t care enough about encouraging quality software on the App Store to make such a move.
Even if the Top charts were gone, there would still be clones — it just wouldn’t be as profitable. I don’t think a good solution to this problem really exists, except to try not to care as much next time.