What If Someone Steals My Great App Idea?

May 9, 2016 - 3 minutes read

iPhone app idea

Startup founders are protective of their ideas, and for good reason. While it’s true that “execution is everything” in the mobile app development industry, execution can’t happen without a good idea to base it on. With that in mind, pitching and team building can become an exercise in paranoia for founders with particularly innovative ideas. What if an investor or mobile developer steals the concept?

These fears are founded on reasonable assumptions. However, the unique fast-paced nature of the startup world actually makes stealing an app idea incredibly difficult for any misguided mobile app developer that might try.

In this post we’ll look at a few examples that illustrate why that is.

Borrowing, inspiration, and theft

Crafting a successful mobile app is an art. The old saying about how “the best artists steal” absolutely carries over. The problem is that while newcomers might worry about their idea being stolen, cases where only one company is pursuing an app idea are incredibly rare. Any iPhone app idea worth pursuing will be had by more than one iPhone app developer, and the question of success boils down to execution.

Even in the famous case of Mark Zuckerburg and the Winklevoss Twins, the “idea” wasn’t being stolen. Rather, it was the overlapping audience between two similar-but-independent social network ideas that was being fought over. (Not to mention that Zuckerburg wasn’t the only Boston mobile app developer chasing it.) Morality aside, Zuckerburg was only able to “steal” the market because he had the unique skill of being able to build a functioning web app. The Winklevoss Twins, meanwhile, only had money — if they had special experience or insights into the dating industry to give them a competitive advantage over other social networking sites, things might have been different for them in the long run.

It’s more important to be fast than unique

But what happens if direct theft does occur? There’s no better example than that of iPhone app developer Steve Blank, who discovered that a competing group had posed as investors in order to steal his slides. What’s worse, they had turned around and raised significant venture capital with those slides.

Rather than get tied up in legal proceedings, however, Blank decided to simply continue developing their app at the same fast rate. Their unique insight into their industry resulted in a continually-evolving product that dominated the market. meanwhile, the thief’s company stagnated and failed within months.

By emphasizing speed and execution above all else, iPhone app developers can rule the market regardless of competitors and imitators.

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