Giving the game away

A question I have struggled with in the past is “How much of an app should I make public, prior to its release?

If I reveal too much too soon, then someone may steal my idea and produce a similar application before I get chance to publish mine. This is particularly true in my case, since I’m not working full time on development so it will be a while before I finish.

The truth is however, the idea behind Cindy is not that original. It’s an RSS, Twitter and Facebook reader combined into one. In fact, I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t already applications out there that provided similar functionality. What I am hoping for however, is a quality application and an exceptional user experience. It’s all about the execution of the idea; something that you are not going to be able to copy from a high level description or without actually having the app in front of you.

Also, having already done a few months part time development on Cindy, I can safely say it’s not going to be a quick app to develop. If someone really wants to take my idea and make a similar app, then they are also going to have their work cut out for them.

I’ve also been encouraged to “reveal all” following a number of articles and books I’ve recently read. From a marketing perspective, most of what I’ve read states that you should start your marketing campaign before you even start coding.

Rob Walling, in his article Why You Should Start Marketing the Day You Start Coding address the fear of someone stealing your idea with the following:

Wake the hell up! No one cares about your idea. Not even your mom (I know she said she does, but she was just being nice).
Anyone with the skill to clone your idea and the motivation to actually make it happen is way too busy with the 37 ideas they have every day to bother taking yours. And if someone does steal it before you launch, consider it a favor.
Having your idea stolen sooner saves you the hassle of building it, only to have someone steal it then. If it’s that easy to steal it’s going to happen one way or the other.

A Geek and his Dad put the value of an idea without execution at $20.

The ideas keeping you up at night, bouncing around in your skull aren’t going to be worth anything or result in anything except loss of sleep if you don’t actualize them.

Jeff LaMarche also mentions ideas versus execution in his (slightly off topic) article on NDAs

Ideas, with only rare exceptions, have little value without the ability to execute on the idea and execute on it well. I guarantee you that no matter how great you think your idea is, we have several of our own that we’d rather be spending our time on. But we don’t even have time to work on our own cool side projects right now, never mind steal yours.

So, after some initial reluctance, I’m now quite comfortable revealing all there is to know about Cindy, even though she won’t be making her first public appearance for some time. So go ahead, spread the word, tell your friends, the more the merrier. After all, isn’t that the purpose of this site! And if you really want to build a similar app then “go for your life“. A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone!

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