One of the things I have come across as a software developer for 15 years or so is that people have lots of great ideas. Software developers have a very powerful set of skills that allows them to take an idea, whether their own or, more frequently someone else’s, and turn it into reality. There are many professions that are able to do this but in my eyes a software developer, especially these days, has an advantage over most others. With the correct set of skills a programmer can create something that millions of people use out of virtually nothing but an idea.
I know it’s not that simple because, believe me, I’ve tried to take many ideas and turn them into something real that people want and use.
It’s because of this power and potential that I think many developers and people in general are very hesitant to ever talk about their Big Ideas. I can fully understand why. These days you read about one app being copied by another almost daily. Take Flappy Birds for example. As soon as it was out and popular there were 100s of clones almost overnight. What about the awesome and popular app Threes. Usually you will see an app be released, get popular and then be cloned. With Threes it was almost backwards. The clones actually seemed to get popular before Threes had really taken off. Only once people saw that the other apps were total rip offs did they begin to use the original. How discouraging this must have been for Sirvo, the makers of Threes! And you hear about this stuff all the time.
Usually you will see an app be released, get popular and then be cloned.
I’m going to risk a huge flame war but take a look at iOS and Android. First there was iOS and then Google basically copied the design paradigm of iOS to create Android. I know they are completely different and in the end having more than one mobile OS is very very good for us all but it’s still another example of how things are copied.
It’s enough to make you never want to talk about your ideas! I’ve been there and, at Binary Star Systems, we actually have several Big Ideas that we have only talked to a small number of people about.
As we build our first mobile app (FoodFu for iOS) we have been struggling with this problem of keeping everything secret until it’s released. In the end we have decided that if no one knows about or is using your Big Idea then just how big of an idea is it? Not big at all. So we have decided to tell as many people as we can about our app. That way people know about it and get excited about it.
Sometimes it takes a while for a product to permeate the market before it has wider usage and recognition. The earlier you start this process of educate the market the sooner it will reach a larger audience. If you don’t do that, then you will be behind the game potentially when you need the most recognition which is when you release your app. You spend all this time and effort creating it and then you release it to an unsuspecting market and nothing happens. This is because you never told anyone! What else did you expect?
Not all apps are complete viral apps that explode out of the gate and make the developers millions of dollars. In reality this never happens. It’s a dream and something that simply will not happen to you. It’s nice to have ambition but you also have to be realistic. In software it’s very common for more than 75% of all apps to fail. So what makes you think yours will be any different?
So back to telling people about your app. We tell everyone we can about it. Yes, there’s a fear that someone will clone it and even release it before we can. We are a small company with one developer and one graphic designer/marketer. How can we compete with companies with a huge budget and many resources? Maybe we can’t. But with the proper execution of our plans we can give them a good run for their money if they choose to create an app that’s similar to ours.
In the end we have decided that our secret weapon against someone cloning our app is execution.
In the end we have decided that our secret weapon against someone cloning our app is execution. Execution, execution, execution. Our small, two-person team has a good set of skills that allow us to create almost anything. If we can execute our plans using those skills better than others then we will be in good shape.
Have you had any experiences with whether or not to tell people about your ideas? How have you dealt with it?