February 3, 2011 Thinking about piggybacking your product off someone else’s? Think twice.
This week, 37Signals announced a new mobile flavor of BaseCamp for more intelligent smart phones. This has been a long time coming. Everyone is pretty pleased that it’s finally available.
Except brytesoftware, the makers of Kompass for BaseCamp. See they, at the end of last year, started a private beta of the exact same thing as what 37Signals just released — for free. Kompass was an iPhone app and (I’m assuming) once brytesoftware decided to try and capture the BlackBerry market they realized that supporting multiple, device specific, applications was a bad business model, they went back to the original iPhone app story and started on just building a mobile site/skin for BaseCamp.
It took a long time. I signed up for the Kompass for BlackBerry last May (or thereabouts). On December 30th, I got my invite to the new Kompass site. A month later 37Signals announces their new mobile web UI. That just has to hurt. In fact, a post on the Kompass blog (well, on the 37Signals blog that was reposted on the Kompass blog) from last July announces the Kompass product in development — surely 37Signals had this already on their roadmap — or did they just get tired of waiting for Kompass and build it themselves?
The worst part about it for brytesoftware? Their mobile version is better and faster. It won’t make a difference. They’re going to lose.
So if your new product is an enhancement for an existing product (or plugin, etc.), tread lightly. You don’t control the product. They do. And if they add your feature set or remove the functionality that you’re enhancing or change the API that you’re leveraging… you’re stuck with an unsellable product.