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Google yanks App Engine demo after blogosphere brouhaha

37Signals founder charges that demo is 'feature for feature' copy of his company's Campfire app

By Heather Havenstein
April 9, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Just a day after launching a preview version of its new Google App Engine, Google Inc. yesterday yanked one of the development product's demo applications after a blogosphere brouhaha erupted over its origin.

The move came after bloggers contended that the real-time chat demo application for Google App Engine, called HuddleChat, was a copy of the Campfire real-time chat application from 37Signals LLC.

Jason Fried, founder of 37Signals, told blog ReadWriteWeb that while the company is flattered that Google thinks Campfire is a great product, "we're disappointed that they stooped so low to basically copy it feature for feature, layout for layout."

Google noted that after hearing "some complaints from the developer community about it," it opted to remove the application from the Web.

Google launched the preview release of the App Engine on Monday, touting it as a way for developers to run their Web applications on Google's infrastructure. The development environment includes dynamic Web serving, persistent storage, automatic scaling and load-balancing Google APIs for authenticating users and sending e-mail, according to Google

ReadWriteWeb's Richard MacManus, noted that the questions surrounding HuddleChat amounted to a "storm in a teacup" because HuddleChat was supposed to be a demo application.

"It was built internally at Google after all, and wasn't meant to be an official Google product that competed with 37Signals' Campfire," he noted. "More than that though, I'd suggest that Google just doesn't want the latest blogtroversy to get out of hand (as these things are wont to do)."

TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington added that while blogosphere reaction to the demo is ridiculous, "this is apparently a fight that Google doesn't want to be involved with. This is the first case of censorship on the new Google App Engine platform and a bad precedent."

Arrington went on to question whether Google developers had a say in the decision to pull down the application. "And why, since HuddleChat is not an official Google product, was it Google that made the decision to pull it down and not the developers who created it?" he added. "Google was very careful to say that they were not affiliated with HuddleChat while it was up — that, apparently, wasn't the case."

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