By: Gigaom
May 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM EDT
Rocket caught copying Fab code in Nigerian push
The fact that Germany's Rocket Internet is launching another clone should come as a surprise to no-one. But even with their copycat reputation, cutting and pasting code for their new Nigerian online store seems more than little bit lazy.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

In recent days, Berlin clone factory Rocket Internet has had a register-your-interest page up for its new Nigerian site, Sabunta. It’s a clothing store and, once launched, it will probably look like Rocket’s many other Zappos clones.

I know it was there – I looked at it this morning, along with the still-up Facebook page. But then I looked again later and it was gone. And then I realised why.

The Samwer brothers’ favourite sources of, ahem, “inspiration” include not only Zappos and Amazon but also Fab.com. And wouldn’t you know it, today the German publication Gruenderszene outed the fact that the Sabunta landing page actually contained Fab.com code.

Happily, although the Sabunta page has vanished, the cached version has not. Here’s some of the offending code:

As Gruenderszene quite correctly pointed out, it’s a mystery why Rocket needed to copy this stuff. After all, its own copy of Fab, Bamarang has been in operation for a while now, so why not just take the code from there?

You’d also think Rocket might have learned from the last time this happened.

Two months ago, an eagle-eyed reader of the terms and conditions attached to Rocket’s Pinterest clone, Pinspire, noted that one section of the cut’n'paste job still referred to Pinterest.

Unoriginal but logical

Snarking aside, it is interesting to see Rocket finally make its Nigerian play. When I was researching our already-out-of-date map of the company’s global spread in April, I noticed several registrations of Rocket brand names as URLs for the country.

As I pointed out in the ensuing comments conversation, Rocket’s frenzy of activity in South Africa pointed to the establishment of a sub-Saharan base there. Now, apart from Sabunta’s coy appearance and hurried disappearance, reports are emerging of another Rocket Amazon clone getting set to launch in Nigeria this month.

Africa’s three biggest economies are South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt… and Rocket’s now in all three.

To some extent, the big names of e-commerce should not be surprised to see Rocket eating their African lunch when they themselves don’t bother to address the continent’s growing middle classes. But, on the other hand, they don’t deserve to see their code copied either.

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