Killer App

In marketing terminology, a killer application (commonly shortened to killer app) is any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology, such as computer hardware, gaming console, software, a programming language, software platform, or an operating system. In other words, consumers would buy the (usually expensive) hardware just to run that application. A killer app can substantially increase sales of the platform on which it runs.[1][2]

Examples

One of the first examples of a killer application is generally agreed to be the VisiCalc spreadsheet for the Apple II series.[3] Because it was not available on other computers for 12 months, people purchased the $100 software first, then the $2000 Apple they needed to run it.[4] BYTE wrote in 1980, "VisiCalc is the first program available on a microcomputer that has been responsible for sales of entire systems",[5] while Creative Computing's VisiCalc review was subtitled "reason enough for owning a computer".[6] The machine was purchased in the thousands by finance workers on the strength of this program.[7] Another is WordStar, the most popular word processor during much of the 1980s.[8] The next example is another spreadsheet, Lotus 1-2-3. Sales of IBM's PC had been slow until 1-2-3 was made public, and then increased rapidly a few months after Lotus 1-2-3's release. Once the Internet became more widely available to consumers, email was seen as a killer app that drove people to purchase computers, even though email is a genre of applications rather than a single "app." The definition of "killer app" came up during Bill Gates's questioning in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust suit. Bill Gates had written an email in which he described Internet Explorer as a killer app. In the questioning, he said that the term meant "a popular application", and did not connote an application that would fuel sales of a larger product or one that would supplant its competition, as the Microsoft Computer Dictionary defined it.[9]

Selected applications for computer systems

Video games

The term has also been applied to computer and video games that cause consumers to buy a particular video game console or gaming hardware over a competing one. Examples of a video game killer applications are:

See also

References

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