How to develop a defensible app idea and thwart copycats?

by App My Site DIY App Builder

Success breeds imitation. This is not just a phenomenon restricted to the world of business. Every innovative idea invites a dozen of copycats who seek to find some success with it.

This is a common occurrence in the world of technology. Every good idea becomes a prime target for replication. Entrepreneurs and small companies that achieve a breakthrough with a unique innovation also risk cooption from more resourceful competitors.

Losing an app idea to a competitor is a problem unique to the tech world. It’s not like companies cannot take out a patent for their app ideas. However, it’s easy to bypass such patents by simply making a few changes to the idea.

For example, Amazon had an idea of selling products online. This didn’t stop Flipkart from doing the same.

Is there really a way to stop a company from taking away your app idea?

No. With enough time and resources, a different company will be able to integrate your app idea onto their platform.

The best you can do is delay competitors from integrating your innovation.

In other words, you need a defensible idea.

Also read: How to develop an app idea?

What is a defensible idea?

Let’s assume you’re an entrepreneur with no background in coding. You have a WooCommerce store where you sell T-shirts.

Now you wish to launch an app for your website. You create an app with the use of a WooCommerce app builder without coding.

Is your app idea defensible?

Not really.

Many other entrepreneurs can do exactly what you did. All they need is to create a WooCommerce store and sell T-shirts on it with the help of a dropshipper.

Finally, they can use an online app maker and create an app for their WooCommerce store.

A defensible idea is one that cannot be replicated easily. No idea is 100% defensible. However, companies can take steps to improve the defensibility of their innovative ideas and delay competitors.

The following sections provide tips on how to increase the defensibility of an app idea.

Create an ecosystem

Let’s say you have an app idea that will improve emails significantly. Your idea will be much ahead of anything current email providers like Gmail and Yahoo are doing.

Will Gmail users suddenly leave their account and use your app?

No. This is because Gmail is not just about sending emails. Your Gmail account also personalizes your Google searches, optimizes your YouTube feed, and gives you access to Google products like Drive, Docs, Sheets, and so on.

Gmail is not just email. It’s part of a whole ecosystem.

Even a good app idea to radically improve email will not make people forego Gmail.

This is the beauty of an ecosystem. It is easy for a company to steal your app idea. However, it is nearly impossible to steal an entire ecosystem.

You have an app idea? Good. Now work on connecting it with an ecosystem that your competitors cannot replicate easily.

Work on building a network economy around the idea

A product with a network economy is one that enhances user experience if more people use it.

Take Twitter as an example. The only reason people open their Twitter app every few seconds is that there is always something new on the platform.

What if Twitter only had a few users? Would there still be a large audience for it?

There are many apps that depend on network economies. Additionally, these apps also happen to be very defensible.

Also read: How to promote your mobile app on Twitter – The complete strategic guide


Assume you have a great app idea to start a new social media platform. You have a great launch and many people join your app.

As the number of users increases, your app will improve. This is a classical example of a network economy enhancing user experience and safeguarding the app from competitors.

It is difficult to steal an app idea with a network economy. Once such an app hits a critical mass of users, it effectively gains hold over its user base.


The most straightforward way to safeguard your app idea is branding.

Take Apple as an example. What is stopping other big tech companies in the world from replicating its performance and features?

The answer is the Apple brand. People don’t just use Apple products for their features. Its brand value and associated prestige is strong enough to deter competitors from competing in the same range.

You can own your app idea if you have a strong brand image in the market. Good branding requires time and patience. The lionshare of branding must come from your app marketing team. A good marketing story coupled with a great app idea can truly with branding and strengthen an app’s defensibility.

Stick with a stealth launch

We previously discussed how no idea is 100% defensible. A company that puts enough resources into the task will replicate the app idea.

In other words, all entrepreneurs can really do is delay other companies from co-opting their idea.

One way of going about this is sticking with a stealth launch.

A stealth launch basically means you launch your app but don’t make a big splash in the market. You rely on inbound marketing resources that work silently to increase users, Furthermore, you focus on improving the experience of existing users rather than increasing downloads.

This basically ensures your app can find its market and fly under the radar. By the time your competitors notice your presence, you’ve already stolen a march on them and used a critical mass of users.

Let’s assume you run a web design agency and have a new idea to drastically expedite the design process. You want to promote this new idea and get more clients.

To do this, you decide to promote your design agency with a mobile app.

First, you convert WordPress website to Android app if you plan on using a mobile app builder. You then launch your app on the Google Play Store and quietly use ASO and other inbound techniques to get app downloads. You don’t issue press releases expounding on your new app idea or a video marketing campaign on YouTube.

This will essentially help you book a critical number of clients before other big design agencies discover you. Thus, launching quietly and not making a big splash ended up protecting your app idea.

In conclusion

Having a defensible app idea is a prerequisite for any long-term success in the app market.

This piece provides four ways users can make their app idea more defensible. There are many other ways companies can prevent other companies from copying their app ideas. The ones covered here should however be more than enough for the long term success of an app.

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Created on Oct 13th 2020 05:36. Viewed 347 times.


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