Here are some things I’ve noticed recently:
AddThis Main Navigation
ShareThis Main Navigation
AddThis Button and Menu (On Hover)
ShareThis Button and Menu (They recently converted their menu to on hover as well, and made it smaller)
ShareThis Sharing Bar (This was launched recently as well)
So who’s the innovator? Who’s the imitator? Is this purely coincidentalâ€”do great minds really think alike?
And yes… this list goes on… I could probably screenshot a dozen more ideas that are coincidental. I’ve been working on AddThis for the last year, and it’s interesting to see some similar, if not identical, features appear in the same space. Reverse-engineering? Perhaps.
But maybe I’m jumping to conclusions… let’s say for a second ShareThis is not imitating AddThis. Instead, they just happen to test any and all ideas, and the result is their product. And maybe it’s okay.
What do you think? Is this innovation or imitation? If a competitor’s feature tests well, is it okay to copy? I’d love to get your opinion.
Wierd, I posted a commetn here on Wednesday, but it didn't stick.
I don't think this is anything new… particutarly to the hi-tech industry. Where leaders in competition are limmited & there's little inspiration to draw on when working with leading edge concepts and design patterns. These are the conditions ripe for parallels in approach as competitors look over eachothers shoulders to out-compete the other.
I think the important thing to keep in mind… looking at Android cropping up into iPhone's turf, is to continue to exemplify leadership by taking the best examples in design (yours or others) and implementing them with elegance, ease of use, and in a way that is integrated with a respect for the experience as a whole. If you implement a field that auto completes… for instance, it should be implemented consitiatnly across the application (where relevant). If you use annimation to emphasize aspects of the experience, like iPhone's linear and layered pagination for instance, think of how that experience brings meaning to a users context within the task – and can derive meaning for that animation.
In otherwords, if you innovationa (which may, or may not include ideas from your competitors) are holistically integrated into a design system with elegance, it makes it that much harder for the competitor to rip it off without looking like a total copy-cat… thuse falling in-line as a follower (aka not a leader).
I know this is fluffy and obvious… but I really don't think you can get away from immitation and competitors drawing inspiration from leaders in niche industries. This winners are the ones who deliver excellence, consistancy and dependability.
Hope this helps. Love the work you're doing.. keep it up!