I have a great idea for an App but will it just be copied by the big boys??

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by LiveForever, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. LiveForever macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    I have a great idea for an app (its so simple but the couple of people I’ve mentioned it to say it would be really useful) I don't know how to programme but I fully intend getting to grips with the SDK.

    I fully expect a whole host of tutorial type websites to crop up teaching people like me how to use the SDK (any one doing this let me know!) like the scores of Google API sites out there.

    The question I have should I bother as if I spend hours on it and do happen to get it past apples scrutiny what's to stop a bigger company or anyone for that matter simply copying it?

    Will apple provide some kind of copyright control on my behalf and prevent people ripping off good ideas? I can see a real benefit if as part of distributing via itunes apple exercises some judgement and stops blatant plagiarism. I know it can't be patented as such but can an iphone app idea be protected somehow??

    I'm not talking about existing run of the mill applications but genuinely innovative
    stuff- I really like my idea and it utilises all the iphones unique features to create something really interesting (in my opinion anyway!!)
  2. NurseChris macrumors member

    Mar 9, 2008
    Manchester, UK

    I think if it is truly innovative, as you say, Apple would offer you some form of protection. There will be hundreds of app's that people will like the look and try to imitate it, but I think that the last thing Apple would want is thousands of replica app's.
    So to promote innovation and creativity and the development of different applications, they will need to ensure people that once an application is uploaded it has a certain amount of protection, at least until someone comes along and betters or improves on your idea, the market will decide things like that though.

    Unfortunately as in business, someone is always around the corner with a slightly different, slightly better version of your idea.
  3. robhedin macrumors regular

    Dec 14, 2006
    First, no one knows what Apple will or will not do, or if they will pick and choose applications / developers for placement or just allow an "open season" as it were.

    That said, you should probably realize that you're not talking about "hours" on whatever it is you want to do, but more likely "weeks" or "months" -- especially if you have no idea how to program.

    By the time you learn how to program Objective-C and learn Cocoa-Touch, and actually get something written, it's likely that someone more experienced will have something similar-- depending on the uniqueness of your idea, of course.

    Let's assume that you finally get your application written, and that no one else has anything like it. At this point, you'll be protected by copyright. Copyright, however, just protects the *expression* of an idea-- i.e. the actual source code used, the images/music/text displayed, and possibly the "look and feel" of your app.

    There is nothing preventing someone else from coming along and doing something similar. The exception to this are some games-- since the rules of Monopoly are copyrighted, it's difficult for someone else to make up a monopoly-esque game.

    If you're doing something truly novel, you might be able to secure a patent on the implementation of the idea, however this can be expensive to obtain, if someone contests it and wins you're out the money, and some jurisdictions may disallow the concept of a patent on software.

    While much of the above may sound negative, please don't take it that way-- there's a lot of obstacles to overcome when developing software for people to actually use, but overcoming those obstacles can be very rewarding.

    My advice: don't worry about people exploiting your idea. Since you've got an idea that you believe to be good, go out and buy an iPhone and an Intel Mac if you don't already have them, sign up as a registered iPhone developer, install the SDK and try to write the application for yourself. Worry about other people later-- for now concentrate on making something for you that you would be happy with.

  4. LiveForever thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    Hey , great advice. I see your point it could take months...

    Thing is I can't get an iphone here in Australia yet.

    I will give it a go, its worth a $100 investment and seems like an interesting hobby which could make me some money=perhaps.

    I do expect a whole industry to develop of websites creating tutorials and how to use the SDK almost like a mini internet type "gold rush" I see lots of people focusing on the iphone and not websites so much.

    This is the birth of something massive I think.
  5. elcid macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2007
    You can download the SDK and write a program that works before paying the 99 bucks. I would do that to make sure you got it right then invest the 99 to put it up.
  6. colocolo macrumors 6502

    Jan 17, 2002
    Santiago, Chile
    Yes, do yourself a favor and play with the SDK for a while before investing on the project. Not everyone can program, let alone make software they can modify the code at a later date :)
  7. needthephone macrumors 6502a

    Apr 4, 2006
    I see an industry for people with great concepts but little programming experience. This is where (I think) the ifund comes in. They should really add some flesh to exactly how this fund will work. I am thinking that they would partner you up with programmers and if they think its worthwhile put up some equity for a stake.
  8. Snips macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2008
    Suffolk, UK
    As the OP is in Australia, he can't even register for the $99 program yet, as that's only open to those in the USA.

    As such, he's stuck with using the SDK with simulator only - not bad in itself, but disappointing that those outside the USA have a further wait before serious development and distribution can begin.

  9. 170385 macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2008
    For those people that want to share ideas for applications, for the sole purpose of having them be created by SOMEONE, use www.iphonesuggestions.com

    Feel free to take and add ideas.
  10. LiveForever thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    Thanks for the great suggestions.

    As I really like my idea I think I'll have a go and develop it myself. I messed around with machine code, assembly language in the past and have a website with google API aps so it will be a great hobby even if it never sees the light of day.

    I found this site which looks really useful (i'm sure there are 100's others coming along with books, tutorials etc)

    This looks like its apple's page but you need to register (and pay $99 to use it and they are limiting it to a few US developers only at this stage)
  11. avaloncourt macrumors 65816

    Oct 18, 2007
    This thread made me think of something. If the original poster wrote an app (we'll leave the location problem aside) how does one beta test SDK apps? Yes, all of our hardware is the same but there could be uniqueness in button presses, touch sequences, data-triggered problems, etc. that probably wouldn't show up unless it had a real world test. Those of us who have jailbroken know how frequently some apps get updated because problems have been found. How can someone distribute a beta test application within this closed system? Any thoughts?
  12. jaseone macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Houston, USA
    Not really, the iFund has a minimum investment of $100,000 so you are going to have to have a pretty solid business plan to be able to obtain any funding from it and it is just that an investment from the Venture Capital firm, which has both pro's and con's attached to it, it isn't free money by any stretch!
  13. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Jan 8, 2005
    99% of those suggestions are terrible
  14. bazonkers macrumors newbie

    Jan 17, 2008
  15. gjosho macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2007
    Newcastle, UK
    Agreed! And without meaning any offence to the creator of that site, who I'm sure has only the best intentions, it is very unlikely to yield anything worth getting excited about.

    So why do I say this?

    Very simple really, if you have a great idea (not just for software development - but in any business) if you want to make a commercial success of it then you must protect it at all costs. You do not going telling the world about it on the internet!

    Intellectual property protection is big business. And the best way to protect your great idea is NOT to put it into the public domain until all protections have been secured on it.

    That's why the OP isn't saying what his idea is (and nor should they), and it's also why Apple and all other innovators are so secretive. Requiring people to sign NDA's etc.

    Ultimately, when it comes to what the next great idea in software is going to be, it is also why this is a MacRumors site and not a MacFact site!

    To the OP: you'd be advised not to go around telling to many folk about your great idea (unless you trust them total!). If it gets into the public domain you will have zero chance of protecting your investment, and your right to exploit it.

    May I wish you the very best of luck with it!

    And to the creator of iphonesuggestions.com I do sincerely hope you go on to prove me wrong and feature a real blinder of an app. ;)
  16. William Gates macrumors 6502

    William Gates

    Oct 26, 2007
    don't forget the open source community, they're not really looking for protection of their ideas, they just want to get them out there. Don't under estimate open source!!
  17. gjosho macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2007
    Newcastle, UK
    Fair point! And I do hope iphonesuggestions.com finds itself in the full embrace of the said Open Source Commuinty.

    I'm still inclined to think that few people if anyone at all is going to post up a great 'Must Have" app idea to such a site though.

    Then again, maybe I'm just trying to tease those little suckers out of their holes! ;)
  18. LiveForever thread starter macrumors 6502

    Dec 13, 2007
    Yes, you read my mind I really like my idea and I have only told my wife who works for "our company" too

    I do have several patents already and know a bit about non disclosure and the IP field. I agree that an app for the iphone isn't rellay patentable but I'm not about to share it on the internet until I give it a good go myself! I'm not averse to trying to make a few quid out of my ideas (its kept a roof over our heads for a few years now). Its not that my idea is essential for mankind's future existence-if it was I'd post it in the suggestions page!

    Anyway it will be an interesting hobby but I see they aren't letting non US developers download the SDK yet and as I can't get an iphone here yet I'm in no real hurry.

    I saw that suggestions page - interesting ideas but I didn't think the iphone had a loadcell built in (one of the ideas is to use it as a weighing machine) Does the accelerometer allow you to do this though, I can't see how???

    By the way I have seen myself described as "OP" what does that mean???

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