If you search for clones of many popular things, you get a lot of results. There are clones of youtube, facebook and yahoo answers.
Are the clones legal to use?
The cloners probably do not steal the source code from the original business applications. They rewrite everything from the scratch, with the concept of solution similar to the original system.
Also, there are a lot of customers who want clones of some other businesses.
What is the legal and ethical issues with clones?
Can people raise similar businesses?
Is cloning a good term in the industry?
Depending on the program being copied there could be copyrights over the design elements or patents around the business process / technology that were violated.
More importantly, being the second player [especially when the first is a Yahoo / Facebook / YouTube] is basically insuring failure.
Rather than cloning what exists evaluate the market and see where you can improve. Most sites are evolutions of something before them -- Facebook was not the first social networking site, nor did they simply copy myspace as that would have done nothing. Instead they saw the opportunity in the market for a similar, but difference experience [in design, features and utility] and improved.
Even if your model is selling a script rather than running a site, understand the real needs of the market. Copying youtube will not help your clients. They are not youtube. Rather they need a set of similar features and some very distinct ones to thrive in a niche market. Deliver that rather than trying to duplicate.
bimalpoudel usually not illegal but it depends on the specifics of each app and its code.
All the clones do reinforce that it takes a lot more to build a successfull business then just the app.
Ted S that is not strictly true regarding second player.
Vimeo is very successful in the video space. As is Facebook which entered video long after Youtube. There is a strong opinion in the business community that second starter has the real advantage as they get to learn from the mistakes of the first guys and build a more profitable business.
As you say, facebook looked at what the first guys were doing wrong and improved it.
There is also a healthy trade in clones of successfull US businesses in other countries and languages around the world. Many of these dominate their market and the likes of Facebook, ebay, Groupon and others come in a poor second.
Vimeo is a video sharing service that works for both embedding and downloading but it is not the same type of discovery community.
Facebook was about pushing out your friend's activity to see what they were doing while MySpace was much more about posting your own and letting people click in.
Thus neither was the second, they were an evolution of a similar base into something better.
I didn't need another place to rent movies from but I did need a way to rent them without having to go to a separate store. That innovation made Redbox hugely successful, at least for a time.
When you say clone it implies a copy and that's what you see when you look at "clone" scripts -- near identical applications that seek to imitate rather than advance. That's a recipe for failure 9 out of 10, or even 99 out of 100 times. However when you say something like expansion of the concept, well that's where success comes from.
The distinct is seemingly minor but critical. Don't copy what someone else is doing; see what their users, and users in general, want to be able to do and deliver that.
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