We have seen it done. People re-invent the wheel all the time. Of course, in business, this is called innovation, and sometimes, it is fantastic. Take Google for example. They just created a search engine. This wasn’t a new idea. Their approach, however, was slightly different from its predecessors.
But re-inventing the wheel, innovation, etc. are not the business trend of the new millennium. The new trend is to NOT reinvent the wheel. Take Yahoo for example. After seeing Google’s huge success in their simplified search engine, with minimalist design, they simply ripped off the search results page. In a time where information is easily accessible, so are ideas and market research.
You may live in a city where a Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant is next to a Cheesecake Factory restaurant. I used to think these companies belonged to the same parent company, but a few years ago, I learned that was not the case. The way it works? Cheescake Factory spends $$$ on market research and determines if a place is a good fit for its customer-base. They then proceed with opening a restaurant. Maggiano’s finds out where Cheesecake is opening up and opens a restaurant next door since, apparently, they have determined that they succeed where Cheesecake Factory succeeds. Who is more innovative: Cheesecake Factory. Who is spending less money to accomplish potentially similar results: Maggiano’s. Note: I am not an authority on this theory and just basing this on personal observations and random conversations with people over the years — I have spent time in multiple cities where these two restaurants are right next to each other.
The point here is that Maggiano’s approach to business is the new trend. Okay, it’s not “new”, but its prevalence seems to be growing these days. Not just for brick and mortar companies, but perhaps even more so for technology companies. Almost all of us know of some web site that has ripped off a design, content, and/or idea from another web site. In some cases, companies rip off complete web-based business ideas off of something else they have seen online. Heck, even M&S Consulting had its front page content plagiarized word-for-word by another business. This business was not a direct competitor and was across the country! (I am not naming them here as they removed the content immediately upon request).
Of course, the above example crossed the line of legality when not reinventing the wheel, but the examples are endless. I’m sure you have a couple that come to mind as well. Post your examples as I’m sure we would all like to hear about them.