Looking through the “gallery” of demo apps built with Google App Engine, the only one that seems more than half-baked is HuddleChat, written by Google employees Darren Delaye, Braden Kowitz, and Kyle Consalus. But HuddleChat is just a feature-for-feature clone of 37signals’s Campfire. The layout is the same, the tabs at the top of the screen are the same, the right-side sidebar listing participants and file uploads is the same. It even copies Campfire’s trick of formatting a message as “code” if it contains literal newline characters.

Borrowing ideas is fair game, but copying an entire app is wrong. And it’s creepy, in a Microsoft-of-the-’90s way, when it’s a $150 billion company cloning an app from a 10-person company.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008