We were excited to see Apple’s announcement of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion this morning, especially the new iChat (now called Messages). The consumer chat space has been in serious need of innovation so we were hoping for some big changes. There might even be a few things that would inspire future HipChat releases. Unfortunately, it looks like they were the ones that got a little inspiration. As many of our users noticed, the new Messages logo looks a little…familiar.
Well, crap. I don’t know how Apple came to this design. Do I think they copied us? Probably not (but as a designer, I’ll take the compliment). Regardless of how Apple arrived at this design, one of us has to change. It’s really confusing for our users, and they’re really all we care about. So we have a few options:
- Do nothing. “Screw Apple. We got here first.” Although tempting, it won’t change anything. Our users will still be confused.
- “Sue the bastards!” I appreciate this sentiment from our users but it’s pretty much insane when you think about it from our point of view. No matter how many trademarks, patents, or copyrights we have, these guys have billions in cash. We could easily spend more in litigation fees than the value of our entire company. HipChat isn’t going to get any better if we spend the next year in court.
- Change our icon and move on. This is probably what we’ll end up doing. We can get back to business and keep running the company we’re proud to be. After all, who signs up for a service for the logo?
Brands are hard to create, and apparently easy to crush. We know that the spirit of what we’ve created is far greater than just our logo. To people that say “whatever man, they’re just chat bubbles”, I don’t disagree with you. It’s a common logo concept, even for services that have nothing to do with chat. They may just be chat bubbles, but they’re our chat bubbles. They’re on our products, the banner hanging in our office, and the t-shirts we wear every day. But to be honest, I look forward to the challenge of creating something new that will make them think “I wish we’d thought of that”.