Let's say 37 signals has done the extensive work to create a page design that really converts. And we live in the world where anyone else who wants to lift their carefully-researched design can do so in 10 minutes, and reap the same benefits.
Unfortunately, that would put 37 signals at a serious disadvantage -- assuming that customers don't know who first created something really good, the actual creator always loses. All of the copycats get the same benefit with a cost of 10 minutes vs. 10 days.
So the only way 37 signals can benefit from their work is to find a way to make it more work to copy than to recreate.
To do that, they'd need, what -- some kind of heavily-obfuscated Flash? I'm sure if the need were there, we'd find a way to really lock down web UIs.
> In this case, 37Signals was given free rein to track Curebit's customers. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Unrelated to my points above, but never mind tracking... a hotlinked image is the perfect invitation to tweak your own layout, then change the original image files. Sadly, it looks like 37 signals missed their opportunity to paper over Curebit's page with animated penises.
Plenty of good innovators (and artists) innovate for the joy of innovating, and this "protection" gets in their way. DRM and obfuscation hurts everyone involved.
This doesn't add up, though. They're only at a very local advantage, because if their competitors have the same feature the next day, only very few folks will realize who had it first.
And globally, everyone gets the same advantage (everyone is lifted up), but the creators who put in X months of work have paid X months for that advantage, and everyone else paid nothing. So, add that up and you get red, for the creators only. Everyone else can thus charge pennies for whatever service, while the creators need to recoup their costs, so they can't... so they go out of business.
Or they change their strategy.
It gets pretty clear that to "win" in this game, you need to either be the #2 site with any new feature (be ready to snap it up as soon as the competition brings it out), or find some contorted way you can innovate without anyone else nicking it.