Friday, March 30, 2007

Stiff Competition

I just read a post by Ryan Carson, where he notes that someone has put up a job ad looking for a developer to make a clone of one of his products, Drop Send.

I think that job ad highlights one of more interesting things about web applications -- it takes very little effort for someone to check out and copy a successful product, especially since many web applications offer free trials and all you need is a valid email address to sign-up.

When you find people unexpectedly nipping at your heels, the old open source dictum "release early, release often" suddenly sounds like a good idea.

After all, the most obvious (though not the easiest) way to distinguish yourself from a sea of "me-too" players is to stay one step ahead by introducing something new and relevant to your application; existing users will find your product exciting again, and the buzz that the new features generates can bring in new users.

I am reminded of Joel Spolsky's blogpost where he came right out and said: "I can tell you that nothing we have ever done at Fog Creek has increased our revenue more than releasing a new version with more features."

Just goes to show how dangerous it is to rest on your laurels.