About four weeks ago, (23 Feb), stealth startup Spritz went public at the Mobile World Conference to launch their speed reading technology. Their intent is to license it across websites and developers, therefore creating a user community across a range of content heavy applications.

There is no argument from me the approach is novel, (although others have challenged how much comprehension occurs as speed increases).

Regardless of the best approach for reading, what is equally interesting is how fast the idea spread, and not the actual product.

Here is a generalised timeline of what happened:

23/02 – Spritz launched at Mobile World Conference, with their technology to be implemented in Samsung Gear 2 and Galaxy S5 smartphone email applications

10/03 – Spritz announces $3.5m funding for their patent pending technology

11/03 – Open source version built in javascript available

12/03 – Open source bookmarklet available

Ongoing – A range of sister projects have appeared on GitHub

Cloning an idea suggests a viable market exists for a like product or service in a new, large or under-served market (e.g. Airbnb vs Wimdu, Square vs PayLeven vs GoPayment vs Paypal Here, Warby Parker vs Oscar Wiley). Success is dependent on how the idea is executed and shouldn’t be underestimated, as just because it works with one customer type, it may need to be tweaked and changed to suit another customer in a different market.

But in this instance, open sourcing the idea has allowed the public to access something that wasn’t planned to be generally available for some time, reinterpret it as they see fit and provide it to the online public for anyone to use.

In the last couple of months, this has also occurred with with popular app games Flappy Bird (Desktop version), Threes (ThreeJS) and 1024, (2048). This copy-edit-distribute model will continue to occur as individuals choose to build on proven ideas and potentially profit from them financially or via community praise.

At the simplest level, what this comes down to is how an idea is executed. Spritz had one approach and the online community chose another. Sure, there may be a ream of cease and desist letters sent out at some stage but the public execution of the idea has been successful as individuals wanted to solve the problem as they saw it, not as it was being decided for them.

 

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Emmanuel Churchley

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