Great perspective by Mat Legend Gemmell on copying vs innovating:
The lesson of the technology industry in the past five years is that really successful products dare to NOT copy. They’re pure, in that they’re actually designed from first principles – they’re based on the problem and the constraints, without being viewed through the lens of someone’s existing attempt. You know, the kind of thing you actually wanted to work on when you got your degree and were still unsullied by the lazy, corporate machine.
By copying, you’re making your life easier in the short-term, but realistically introducing unnecessary constraints into your design process. Design is about solving problems, and simply copying the visual aesthetic of something isn’t solving your problem.