If you've ever had an idea for a new side-project, the following scenario may be painfully familiar. You get a killer idea. You get inspired. You have all these amazing ideas. Your brain is racing. You pluck up the courage to start taking the idea seriously. You do some research. You find out someone else has already built exactly what you intended to.
I've been in this situation many times in the past, and it's so demotivating that I've given up on side-projects that I know for sure would have been really fun to build and really useful for myself and others. Maybe there's value in building it anyway if we question why we're building the side project in the first place.
The most recent reincarnation of this scenario I have played out in my mind is with a side-project that I've been building. However, I purposely didn't research for competitor apps. The reason being? I wasn't building this app to start a business, competitors didn't matter. I questioned myself why I'm building this side-project? I'm building it for learning and I'm building it for myself to use. Competitors aren't going to take away from those primary goals - I don't need to worry.
The side project is called Internote and I'm having a lot of fun building and using it.
Even if you are starting a project with the intention of turning it in to a business one day? Well perhaps there's a reason you haven't heard of the competitor apps. Maybe your idea, if executed correctly will be superior? AltaVista was around 3 years before Google was incorporated...
Build it anyway!