If imitation truly were the sincerest form of flattery, Testuff would be blushing with embarrassment. Every month, we’re honored with rival updates and new features that closely mirror improvements we’ve made to our own software testing suite.

And this flattery is not limited to our flagship QA testing tool. Sometimes we see our Web content and marketing materials appear elsewhere online – with only the names changed.

In today’s post, my goal isn’t to complain about wholesale copying or to explore how to prevent it. After all, the digital world thrives on imitation. Even we sometimes incorporate new features that we’ve seen in rival products. It comes with the territory – and we’re all guilty of “flattery” at some level.
No – the goal of today’s post is to explore the pros and cons of imitation, and how both sides (the copier and the copied) are affected.

Let’s begin – first with the copier.

The Good and Bad of Copying QA Testing Tools

The pros of imitation are fairly straightforward:

  • Lower cost. You save time and money when planning, designing, and testing new concepts. This is especially true if the code is open enough to reverse engineer the hard work of others.
  • Less risk. There’s a reason why so many of today’s Hollywood movies are adaptations, franchises, and sequels. The market has already spoken. You’re not investing resources developing a product that users don’t want. Instead, you’re pursuing opportunities that have already proven commercially viable.
  • Competitive footing. By incorporating sure-fire winners into your product, you remain competitive. “We have this feature too” is the ultimate message.

The cons are a bit more involved – and vary from feature to feature and product to product:

  • Perpetual catch-up. Even with relatively fast development times, you’re always playing catch-up (at least with that particular feature). True, it’s possible to edge ahead if you bring enough creativity to the table. But in the minds of many, you’ll forever be what Pepsi is to Coke or what the Zune “was” to the iPod.
  • Brand dilution. Similar to the above, imitation makes your product less unique. Your customers come to you for a reason. And they can leave at any time – especially if you operate on a SaaS business model. Copying others dilutes your brand.
  • Interoperability issues. Some features only work successfully in the environment from which they originally arose. A QA testing platform designed exclusively for 1 bug tracker may not be able to incorporate other bug trackers – at least not easily. Imitation can actually make the testing and development cycle more complicated.

Let’s explore the flipside.

The Good and Bad of Having Your QA Testing Tools Copied

The pros again are straightforward:

  • Directional certainty. You know, for a fact, that you’re doing something right if others begin following your lead. The market will tell you if you’re on the right track, but when competitors begin incorporating your features, any lingering uncertainty quickly vanishes.
  • Authorship credit. You are the leader – and everyone knows it. Maintaining that leadership status is not necessarily a done deal. For example, Samsung recently overtook the iPhone in smart device supremacy. But in the short term, all credit goes to you, the original pioneer.

The cons of being copied are even more obvious – and can be summarized in 1 master bullet point:

  • Closing gap. You spent the money, time, and research creating the original product or feature. Others come along and quickly close the gap with far fewer resources. Your innovation ceases being unique, and the only way to reclaim your position is to invest more money, time, and research developing a new breakthrough.

Our Approach to QA Testing Tool Development

As mentioned before, Testuff is ‘guilty’ of incorporating features that have proven successful elsewhere. However rare that was. But the true source of our innovation comes from communicating with our incredibly active community. They request new features or capabilities, and we do our very best to incorporate their suggestions.

It’s possible that these user requests are the direct result of their having seen these new features in a rival QA testing tool – in which case, we’re indirectly copying others. But it’s not intentional. We do what we do by listening directly to our users.

Famed psychologist and columnist, Joyce Brothers, put it best when she said:
“Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.”

Agree? Disagree? Comment down below.