With no iPhone, there is no Android. This is not to say that Android copied iPhone, but rather the impetus to adopt and trust Google’s Android offering was driven by a market dynamic that resulted directly from the iPhone’s success.
- Bill Gurley, “Android or iPhone? Wrong Question”
How do you feel when someone jocks your style?
Before Microsoft started opening retail stores to compete with Apple and Android was accused of copying, err “directly responding to” the iPhone (and vice-versa), Charles Caleb Colton wrote, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Then all these other people
copied him chimed in. Ralph Waldo Emerson declared imitation a form of suicide. Salvador Dali called it unavoidable, saying, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
Great ideas inevitably inspire other great ideas. It’s the question of ownership that gets people heated. When is imitation complimentary, and when is it just plain stealing?
Let’s say you worked for a recommendation engine that ran partly on a large list of user questions and then noticed another company called Apartment List using some of the same questions. How would you feel about it?
Apartment List question:
Apartment List question:
Most Hunch users — 79% of them, when we account for those who skipped the question — would be flattered.
But what about the 21% who would be angry? Are they more likely to be creative types who think personal style is as individual as DNA? Are they more competitive, in general? Do they tend to keep cool bands, books, and events to themselves, instead of recommending them like a Hunch influencer?
We turned to Teach Hunch About You (THAY) questions to make sense of two groups we’ll call The Flattered and The Angry. (Sounds like a soap opera, no?) Here’s what we found out:
1. Hell hath no fury like that of a woman copied.
The majority of Hunch users are flattered when someone imitates their style. But what would you guess is the gender split on The Angry? Current Hunch stats show that it’s 60% women and 40% male. We’re guessing these women are the kind who worry about showing up at a party wearing the same outfit as someone else.
2. It’s not “stealing your style,” it’s “learning from your elders.”
Apparently one’s acceptance of copycats get better with age. A whopping 71% of The Angry are age 34 or younger. Those ages 35-49 are 61% more likely to take being imitated as a compliment.
3. Fashion-challenged people enjoy validation from copycats. Fashionistas don’t need it.
The Angry are 55% more likely to consider themselves fashion-blessed. The Flattered are 50% more likely to say they’re fashion-challenged. Getting a little copycat recognition means they’re doing something right.
4. If you hate being copied, then why are you watching the remake of Footloose?
We’re not sure how many Hunch users have seen the recent remake of Footloose…or would admit to it. But we do know that The Angry are 17% more likely to enjoy movie remakes, because they improve already proven work. (So what’s the big deal with someone copying your outfit, guys?) Meanwhile, The Flattered prefer the original movie. Maybe it’s because they’re old enough to have seen it.
5. The Flattered follow the crowd…or try to.
You’re unique, just like everybody else. The Angry are 9% more likely than The Flattered to want to be perceived as unique, while The Flattered are 21% more likely to say they prefer fitting in with the crowd. We’ll leave it to you to decide if keeping up with fashion trends is more about leading or following.
6. But how do The Angry really feel about their sense of style?
Your school guidance counselor was right: Hurt people hurt people. Even when it comes to clothes and who wore something first. The Angry are 59% more likely to say they don’t like themselves most of the time. The Flattered are 25% more likely to say they overall like who they are. Can we just hug it out now?
7. Go figure. Entrepreneurs would rather not be blatantly copied.
The Flattered are 18% more likely to identify as team players and 54% more likely to be motivated to help a team succeed. The Angry are 29% more likely to be entrepreneurs and not surprisingly, 23% more likely to be motivated by individual success.
8. Insert reference to Charlie Sheen and winning here.
Whether you’re a team member or a free agent, competition is part of any work situation. The Angry are 30% more likely to say they mostly compete with others. The Flattered are 14% more likely to say they’re only competing with themselves and 17% more likely to say they’re not competitive at all.
9. The Angry would appreciate some credit.
Are you emulating the style of someone else? You might want to just thank the appropriate person and get it over with. The Angry are 75% more likely to prod you into saying it, anyway. The Flattered are 24% more likely to help someone without expecting an expression of gratitude. (Thanks for that!)
10. Are fashion advice and computer help really so different?
Hunch users tend to be more tech-savvy than the average bear, but The Angry are 9% more likely to be asked for help with gadgets and technology at home or among friends. The Flattered are 22% more likely to ask someone else for help. Isn’t copying someone’s sense of style the ultimate example of following advice?
When is imitation a matter of emulation, and when is it something to get angry about?