Gruber may be more articulate than the average Mac zealot, but I usually find his opinions irritatingly illogical and biased, especially when he tries — and subsequently fails miserably — to rebut perfectly valid criticism about Apple. This is not one of those times. Following on from earlier criticism about Google’s ‘demo’ Huddlechat, Gruber sums it up perfectly in a very concise manner:
Even if you think it’s OK to copy someone else’s application feature-for-feature, the big fear for developers with something like Google App Engine is that you’re trusting Google with all of your source code. Why should small indie web developers trust Google when the first example app is a Google rip-off of a small indie web app?
HuddleChat was a Google product and it certainly was a clone of Campfire. Still, it remains to be seen whether there is an ethical issue with cloning existing, commercial applications/services and releasing them to the world for free. Isn’t this more or less what Microsoft and later Google became well-known — and in some cases loved — for? Would Gruber, and everyone else — and I’m not excluding myself — have a problem if it was a text-book, Startup.com-like company that had cloned Campfire and released it as a demo of an app-hosting service + framework (ala WordPress.com), or is the criticism firmly rooted in the fact that Google is rapidly becoming a threat to [everything] in the minds and hearts of so many?