There’s A Difference Between Being Inspired By and Outright Copying

A recently launched service that has gotten way too much attention in Norwegian press today is – another “WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW” service. Their business idea? Reimplementing Twitter, copying their look and defending it with “It’s in Norwegian!”.

First, let’s get this out of the way; I have absolutely no problem with people implementing similar services as other people, iterating concepts, being inspired by and in general, standing on the shoulders of giants. I do however have a slight problem with people directly copying other people success histories and passing them off as “revolutionizing social networks in Norway”. And although some news items has pointed out the link to Twitter, they have all failed to point out the fact that this is a blatant ripoff of the original service.

First, let’s start by looking at the main page:

Then we browse over to our international friends and discover their main page:

This seems way to similar to be a coincidence, so their “inspiration” seems quite obvious. In particular, notice the green box, the content of the page (nothing other than sign up). They’ve even managed to get quite a few birds in there too. The only thing they’re missing is the beautiful layout and look of Twitter, but hey, you can’t have it all. Or can you? On to the next comparison:

Versus our now known international friends yet again:

Hmm. This seems quite similar (thanks to Mister Noname for getting me a screenshot of his tweets updates). Guess it’s not really that much about actually trying to be original, but more about just copying what other people have created.

Their defense for creating the site: Twitter is not available in Norwegian, and Twitter is slow (Twitter doesn’t scale! [two bonus memepoints]). Yes. Twitter is slow from time to time, but this is where it gets even more interesting. Neither of the people behind the application are web developers, and obviously hasn’t given much thought about why Twitter is slow.

My guess is that hopefully Twitter will register a formal complaint or the people behind will get wiser and change their look. Maybe they’ll even try to actually build on the idea that created twitter, and create something that is worth checking out. The largest Norwegian community, Nettby has over 700.000 users (if we compare that to U.S. numbers, it would mean a US site with somewhere around 47 million active users), and could probably add this feature just as quick and with an established user base in those numbers, it would be a steam roller against a bird. A twittering little creature.

Bonus points for using “It’s in Norwegian!” as the main defense, then naming your service as a spanish phrase.

6 thoughts on “There’s A Difference Between Being Inspired By and Outright Copying”

  1. The same thing goes for – except that haven’t stolen *that much* of the visual layout from digg as qpsa has from twitter.

    They also had a lot of publicity when they started, but they never really hit it off. Wonder why ;-)

  2. Well actually Nettby has some sort of similar functionality. Alltough its only available to the users of their extended program (Nettby MAX)

  3. They do actually have one good idea implemented on their site that Twitter doesn’t have. Atleast I think it’s good. Replies are shown on their page.

    Check for example this site; you can see others reply beneath. I think that is a good idea, though it lacks the opportunity to hide it and decide whether it shall be hidden on standard etc.

    But apart from that, total rip-off. Even the text on the different sites is the totally same, just translated..

  4. I think its “ok” that functions are adapted, but when the layout is so close to copy / paste does it trigger my body into producing the well know “flame hormone”.

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