26. April 2012–
Releasing proven business models in new markets is standard, if not universally accepted, practice. The real outcry comes when the clone's design is a blatant match...
We've compiled some shockers from for your viewing pleasure. Most are from Germany's Rocket Internet, a few are from elsewhere.
Pinspire (right) is perhaps the most notorious clone, in design terms, to emerge from Rocket Internet.
Rocket's Lazada, an online consumer electronics retailer aimed at Southeast Asia, went live in 2011 with a similar logo, design and colour scheme to market leader Amazon. Lazada's domain name now redirects to Mizado.
Rocket's not the only one cloning Amazon. InfiBeam, an unrelated leading electronics e-commerce player in India, shares the same curvy logo, layout and distinctive colour scheme. InfiBeam's old logo (circa 2010, as blogger Social Couch helpfully archived) is even closer to the Amazon original.
Online rental accomodation marketplace Airbnb, which helps people rent private homes while travelling, inspired at least two Berlin-based companies, 9flats (eVenture Capital and Redpoint) and Wimdu (Rocket). All three share a light blue colour scheme and similar layout. Rocket's Wimdu is the closest match in design terms.
Micro-blogging site Tumblr prompted clone DianDian (not a Rocket Internet company) in China. DianDian went live with a beta in early 2011 and, according to CrunchBase, attracted $10m of series A funding. Blog TechRice suggests censorship might have delayed or limited Tumblr's reach in China. Apparently, Tumblr is now unblocked.
Why clone design?
While Germany's Rocket Internet is known for rolling out clones, it doesn't always choose to clone the design - at least not so blatantly. Zalando may be inspired by US-based Zappos but the design is not such a close match, and Zalando is branching away further through pop-up stores, a partnership with Germany's Next Top Model, and Rocket-owned clones of its own (including Zalora in Southeast Asia).
So why mimic design in some cases and not others? Why mimic at all? One possible answer would be to lead customers to assume both sites are owned by the same company. This, in itself, seems shortsighted but might make it easier for "originals" to acquire competitors, by streamlining the rebranding process after acquisition.
Let us know your thoughts (and suggestions for a follow up) in the comments below or ping us @venturevillage.
For more on Rocket Internet, check out: