For the last four years Basecamp has been the top online project management app, but on the internet 4 years is a decade. Since launch Basecamp has been cloned and challenged by many newcomers looking to overthrow the king of project management.

Since its launch in feburary 2004, 37 Signals’ revolutionary Basecamp has attracted over a million users and manages over 700,000 active projects. Before Basecamp managing Projects meant organizing wikis, logging IMs and dealing with email inboxes overflowing with fragmented conversation.Part of what made Basecamp successful was that it shifted the focus of Project Management to communication and execution, rather than organization. That and its simple learning curve.

The Ruby on Rails framework was extracted from the Basecamp project and made public and now is the MVC Framework of choice for Agile rapid development.

Should 37 Signals be worried ?

For now, No. there is no clear runner-up to Basecamp, let alone a viable challenger. For the immediate future their market-share is safe.In four years no single offering can effectively clone the overall experience. And Basecamp has inspired many clones. Here are some of the top contenders aiming at replacing Basecamp.

Edit: This is not a basecamp-copycat list. Some of these were established players in the PM game before basecamp.

  1. 24SevenOffice
  2. AceProject
  3. activeCollab
  4. AgendaPoint
  5. @task
  6. Celoxis
  7. Central Desktop
  8. Clocking IT
  9. Copper Project
  10. devshop
  11. dotProject
  12. Enterprise Project 2.0
  13. Huddle
  14. Intervals
  15. LetsProve VO
  16. OfficeZilla
  17. OnStage
  18. phpCollab
  19. PHProjekt
  20. ProWorkflow
  21. QFile
  22. RailsCollab
  23. Smartsheet
  24. Streber
  25. Teamwork
  26. Another Teamwork
  27. Web Collab
  28. Wrike

On a deeper analysis Basecamp is more of a communication management tool aimed at collaboration rather than a highly statistical project manager. So some of these contenders do offer a more manage-by-numbers approach and succeed at project tracking, but fail the collaborative communication and GTD aspect.

Deja Vu?
If all this mixed competition looks vaguely familiar , Think blogging.

  1. b2evolution
  2. blosxom
  3. Dotclear
  4. Drupal
  5. Livejournal
  6. Nucleus CMS
  7. Pixelpost
  8. Serendipity
  9. Textpattern
  10. Typo
  11. WordPress
  12. ExpressionEngine
  13. Movable Type
  15. Blogger
  16. Blue Kaffee
  17. MySpace Blogs
  18. Open Diary
  19. TypePad
  20. Windows Live Spaces
  21. Xanga
  22. Vox

The Project Management scene right now is reminiscent of the early blogging scene where the lack of a clear winner had many companies vying for the top blogging-app spot.

What happened with blog apps?
The open-source WordPress CMS ate-up the scene by commoditizing blogging software. Most top blogs today are self-hosted on the wordpress engine. Blog communities like Xanga, Livejournal and Vox stagger along, making up for the lack of quality with user-generated quantity. Google has’nt done anything innovative with Blogger and it continues to play catch-up to other blogs. Overall serious competition in blog apps has consolidated to a handful of blogs engines.

This takes us to beyond Basecamp:
Open-sourcing is what needs to happen to PM also. Active Collab started on this route but have since deviated for monetary profit. The offering of a free, open-source, self-hosted PM system will reduce noise in the space by eliminating the more feature-less Basecamp clones. Some serious competition in this space could also see 37 Signals return to the lab and update Basecamp, and maybe offer power users some new and revolutionary ways of GTD and collabration.