On Saturday I published a story on Medium called “Dear Zuck, What the Fuck” — https://medium.com/@kteare/dear-zuck-fuck-84d9c1bdba26#.8mm0qbhhz.
3 Readers at Hacker News flagged the article as spam or link bait —
“This is clearly just marketing spam” (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11465528),
— others described it as an accusation related to merely the look of FB Messenger and pointed out that this look is common to many apps, including iMessage and others that pre-date chat.center —
“His first example is basically saying “you copied us since we both look like iMessage”. (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11463349).
These comments miss the point.
Of course, because this is the internet, there are links in my story, and because social media exists and I do want the word about this to get out, I do ask people to share it.
These links are clearly not “bait”. The intent of the links is clear from the context and nobody who clicks would have been baited or misled. I also did ask people to read the article first and only share if they empathized.
Note: If you read this and empathize, please Tweet, Facebook and generally share this today if possible. (https://medium.com/@kteare/dear-zuck-fuck-84d9c1bdba26#.8mm0qbhhz)
More importantly. The article does not accuse Facebook of merely copying a UI. Indeed it explicitly says that may be a reasonable and obvious UI and could even be a coincidence. In a chat with a Messenger team member Sunday he claimed that was indeed the case.
a fair person might say that it’s easy for two pages to look similar, especially if their goal is similar. the color schemes may just accidentally be the same. The 3 column layout also. And perhaps the message box at the bottom is just, you know, “obvious”. And I am a fair man, so I’ll give you that.
What the article does do is say that Facebook has duplicated the entire concept of a Unique chat ID (a human readable URL pointing to a SaaS chat service), and then of linking that from any starting point (for example a URL in an email or a web page) to the owner of the ID via a Web and mobile app.
Until Friday chat.center was novel in offering a service combining these elements.
However, because we fully integrate into the DNS using this approach (making chat.domain.com/person possible), and because we do not require a person clicking a URL to be a “member” or “join” before connecting to its owner, we are different and better than Facebooks offering. We both use chat IDs, but we are making chat ID’s open and unlimited. Facebooks can ONLY use m.me/personname and can ONLY be used to click on by members of Facebook.
There is no doubt that Facebook has created a uniquely Facebooky duplicate our service. They may or may not have copied it. But as the founder of chat.center and a person who cares about users, employees and investors I certainly think Facebook should be called out for the duplication.
I also think it is fair to point out that they have duplicated an old version of chat.center and in a way that limits its usefulness.
We are not really concerned at a competitive level either. Open chat IDs are in many ways more attractive than Facebook ones for any self-respecting brand, and the DNS is clearly the right place to integrate this functionality. Besides, the version you copied dates back to April 2015. We are close to our next version and it is a significant step forward in this space. So this is not about the competition.
It is also reasonable to state that an educated team at Facebook MUST have been aware of chat.center. Here are just the TechCrunch stories covering us since we started: