Talk:Killer application

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More Than Just Computer Programs[edit]

First of all, I agree the term is "killer app" and while the article should certainly explain that app is short for application the term used is killer app. No one goes around talking about killer application; they say killer app. So that's one problem. The other issue I have with this article is its statement that a killer app(lication) is a computer program. Haven't people said that porn was the killer app for VCR sales? True or not, it doesn't matter. But it is an excellent example of how this usage is not just about computer software. (Some also say that porn was the killer app for computer video but then we're back to software.) Anyway, the article needs significant editing. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.245.128.82 (talk) 13:27, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Sure, the PBS / BBC series Triumph of the Nerds uses the term for all sorts of things. The Killer App for the internal combustion engine, they say, was the automobile. (I entered this edit to say that, before the car, there was the one-cylinder outboard motor engine. Workers would steal one part a day, or week, and assemble their own at home - the real basis of the Johnny Cash song "One Piece at a Time".) 173.162.253.101 (talk) 17:08, 27 October 2016 (UTC)

Wii Sports[edit]

In my opinion, a game such as Knights of the Old Republic to the Xbox is much of a killer app than Wii Sports is to the Wii. I'm willing to bet that Wii Sports, while being a fun party game, did not influence many to run out and buy a Wii due to it's exclusivity. I know many on the other hand, who bought an Xbox to play KOTOR. I know this classifies as original research, but I beleive it's rather easy to see it. Perhaps a more worthy candidate for the Wii would be Rayman Raving Rabids. It was during the Wii's launch an exclusive. As an aside, I believe that another reason for KOTOR's iclusion would be if memory serves that it's conversation system was a the time considered revolutionary, and it's well known for it's epic story and well developed characters. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 24.66.35.68 (talk) 19:49, 7 April 2007 (UTC).

If you can find proof that Rayman Raving Rabids was an exclusive reason why many people bought the Wii, I suppose you could place it on the list. Wii Sports, though it is a popular and fun game, was not, as I agree, a reason why people bought the Wii.
In Japan Wii Sports is selling more than Zelda every month so I think it's a killer app in Japan... 82.131.250.253 18:19, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
in hindsight, wouldn't you say either Super Smash Bros. or Wii Fit are "killer apps" for Wii? I believe a lot of people who enjoyed Smash on Gamecube waited until it came out for Wii before buying the new console, and others are willing to buy the Wii if they can let their kids use Wii Fit so it's more than just "distraction" gaming, now it's "serious" gaming. 199.214.27.252 (talk) 18:07, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
I see the point about Wii Fit, it's selling loads, but I think it's a stretch to call it a "game". But regardless, yes people are buying it, but I doubt it was the defining factor for purchasing a Wii in the first place. Likewise with Smash Bros. Games as killer apps as usually POV though, which is why there's only a few in the article at the moment. Thanks! Fin© 09:34, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

"Killer Application?"[edit]

Not to be pedantic or a pain, and I know someone thought this was a very good idea to change it, but "killer application" is an extremely uncommon way of using this term. It's used as "Killer app" - and that may sound like slang, but the very idea of a "killer app" is basically "nerd slang" already. "Killer application" should redirect to "killer app" and not the other way around. 70.100.88.251 (talk) 16:10, 9 June 2008 (UTC) [I agree --Merarischroeder (talk) 03:48, 8 May 2009 (UTC)]

Clearly anecdotal, but I have always known is as "killer application". And the shorter version seems odd to my ear. I prefer it the way it is, certainly more proper, and it is keeping in line with the origins of the term. HumphreyW (talk) 05:40, 8 May 2009 (UTC)
I would go with Killer App as the term for "software that sells hardware", which was what the term meant when it first came along. I remember the days when Guys in Suits would come in to the store and say "I want to buy a VisiCalc", meaning they wanted to buy a COMPUTER along with the VisiCalc program.
As for the original discussion, I do not recall ever hearing someone say "Killer Application" in normal speech, it is always "Killer App". Kid Bugs (talk) 12:38, 28 November 2011 (UTC)


Not just anecdotes, but citations, from Oxford Dictionary:
1988 PC Week (N.Y.) 24 May 39/1 Until we see those first two or three killer apps..few corporate customers will see much reason to begin to commit to OS/2.
1991 New Scientist 21 Sept. 35/2 The multimedia industry is still looking for what it calls a ‘Killer App’, a feature or application that will persuade us that we can't live without a unit.
1998 E. Davis TechGnosis vii. 203 In many ways, games are to digital technology what porno videos were to the VCR: the ‘killer app’ (or application) that, by stimulating gargantuan desires, creates a mass consumer market for a new media technology.
Clearly from the late 80s the term had become "killer app". 202.81.248.18 (talk) 03:33, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Another Definition[edit]

Primarily, I believe the term has evolved over time. Yes, Apple may have copied the term but according to modern culture the word shouldn't be restricted to it's original definition. I belive a killer application to mean: software which is revolutionary AND popular, rather than simply a catalyst for hardware sales.

For example Napster was revolutionary, maybe not nessesarily inventive (someone may have come up with the idea before), but was successful in bringing the ideas of P2P communication and file sharing into the mainstream.

Other examples of using this definition: --Doom was very popular and was revolutionary using a 3D perpective (Again it may not have been the first)

Additional to the above definition, a killer application could be an application which nailed a set of features which users have been looking for in a single package. There are many products which have different sets of features, like Linux flavours, browsers, email clients, File Sharing Clients (since Napster) and users are always scattered over the many choices. A killer application would contain a set of features which far exceeds the relevancy of the competition, increasing marketshare, and this may only be for a time.

Which brings me to the next qualifier. Time. Napster (I believe) was a killer application, but since then the gauntlet has been passed on (this is probably controversial) to LimeWire, then eDonkey, then BitTorrents. As users requirements changed with government regulation, and developers adapted their products. It's true to say that Napster is no longer a killer app, but was considered one in it's day.

Finally, I believe there is a weak link with killer applications to marketing. A good example for this is the Firefox web browser. Not only did Firefox have tabbed browsing, an independent rendering engine (to IE) and better stability (controversial), but the Firefox consortium succeeded in marketing the browser differently to the others. There were countless of other flavours of the Mozzila browser, as well as IE build ons and the tabbed opera brower, but these never became as popular as Firefox. Firefox looked visually more appealing, the website was clean and easy to use, and although it was not a new technology was revolutionary in taking market share from IE.

So i've stated an alternative with optional additions to the replace currently used definition, which I believe is more accurate. But perhaps the above arguments could simply be appended to the already existing article and presented to the reader for consideration. Anyway, I'll leave it to others to consider first, before I or someone else makes any changes. I would like to hear some consensus first. --Merarischroeder (talk) 03:47, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

If you have a look at, Google: "define: killer app"[1], you'll see that all the results point to a definition consistent with the one I suggested. I believe that the "Catalyst for Platform Adoption" definition currently being used should be downgraded. It should be considered a definition used by a minority or a historical definition which is now mostly outdated. It could also be completely abondoned as VisiCalc could be described as a Killer Application which helped to propel sales of the Apple II platform (this sentance isolates the Killer Application definition from having to be used with platform adoption). The new article may simply state that Killer Applications are sought to add value to a platform, and that the Monopoloy of a Killer Application on a platform or making a Killer Application exlusive for a platform is a common practice. The relationship of an application (not necessarily killer) and a platform can both improve popularity of both the platform and the application, making the application a killer application. --Merarischroeder (talk) 03:21, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree. The current page does not explain a common meaning of the term. 'Killer' primarily describes the application's effect on competing software, not hardware. Google's second hit for this term, [2], better reflects the term's origin. Wikipedia should at least cover both definitions. --JBR —Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.132.59.83 (talk) 17:51, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
The google search you link [3] seems to support the traditional meaning of "killer app", that is, something that proves the worth of the platform or category it was built upon. Just because some investors think that "killer" is refering to competition (it isn't) or that someone hacking out ad copy misuses a buzzword a synonym for "good" doesn't mean that the term has lost all meaning. If the normal public definition of killer app has really become "good software" we should just delete the article, but since I don't think that's the case, I'm going to revert this and try to clean up the previous version.
Also, Napster is and always will be the "killer app" for p2p filesharing, even if it doesn't exist anymore, it's the reason the platform came into common use. Today's most popular filesharing product is not automaticly the "killer app" becuase it's not a synoym for "good" or "popular". Compare google searches for "killer app" napster[4] and "killer app" bittorrent[5]; outside the junk results you see napster described as the killer app for p2p, and bittorrent described as the killer app for broadband (as in people upgrade to a faster connection to torrent more). Dilution of this term hasn't overwhelmed the more precise meaning in public yet. BCoates (talk) 06:28, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the Google results did change to now only show the traditional meaning. When I rewrote the article, I couldn't find the link which supported my more modern definition (but it was there before). If you look now, you'll find it has changed again to a wider definition. I believe the article should not be focused on the one reference to Apples definition. There are more opinions out there and I tried to accommodate and generalize all of them in my rewrite.
Also, do you think that it was constructive to completely revert the entire rewrite of the article? If I was of your opinion, I would have simply added additional sections to the article to state the opposing view. I just don't see why (other than my lack of references) you reverted the article, effectively loosing the additional information which would be useful for those interested in the topic of Killer Apps.
The argument that Napster is or isn't still called a killer app. Could also be branched with the two views, to challenge the reader to consider both arguments. And to clear up my opinion - I would say "Napster was the killer app for p2p", that is it happened in the past, and is no longer available in the market. Whereas I see your opinion as saying "Napster is the killer app for p2p", implying that Napster is still around and is still shaping the p2p market.
Finally, yes there is a section that I wrote which sounds similar to a "good software" article. But this section is about writing software which is intended to be a killer app. This is quite different to a general guide to writing good software. And being completely relevant to the killer application article, I would consider it's place relevant. --Merarischroeder (talk) 04:07, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Definition[edit]

The article starts off by stating that a killer app is one that "stretches the capabilities of current computer hardware and software technology: i.e. it "kills" the system by demanding so much of the processor(s), memory, data bus and / or data storage devices that the response to the user is slowed down to unacceptable levels". This must surely be a misunderstanding; it seems to have beamed in from a parallel dimension. In our world, here on Earth, a killer app is a piece of software that is so desirable that it drives sales of a compatible piece of hardware, and by extension it is any media that drives sales of a medium (I paraphrase this from the Jargon File's entry). In its current form the article is misleading, out of sync with the rest of the world. At first I assumed that User:Merarischroeder was responsible for this nonsense, but reading his replies above I am left none the wiser as to where this odd, non-standard definition came from. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 18:50, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

If you look in the history, the intro paragraph was just changed 2 days ago by someone who wasn't logged in and made no other edits. Would reverting the last change put this back to a more accurate definition? The prior version seems to be more in line with the source you cited. I'm not familiar enough to really judge though. WeisheitSuchen (talk) 21:26, 4 April 2009 (UTC)
It looks like HumphreyW had the same idea and already reverted. Hopefully this takes care of the issue. WeisheitSuchen (talk) 11:52, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
First time poster, anonymous IP, no citations and making bold claims that completely change the subject matter. All those signs together point towards something that should not be there. So I reverted it. If the original contributor wishes to reinstate it then hopefully next time there will be suitable citations to follow else it will get reverted again. HumphreyW (talk) 12:43, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

If you want another example, crash simulation became the killer app for the Cray-1 supercomputer and its successors. See entries for Cray and LS-Dyna. Until about 1980, supercomputing was mostly confined to government and defense. km —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.227.99.180 (talk) 21:14, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Non-standard Usage[edit]

The term killer app sounds like something that "in-the-know" software sales and marketing people would use to justify their own existence. Those who use the term are less software designers and implementors than monetizers of other people's work. The uninitiated are intended to be impressed with the erudition of people of who use the term "killer app." At least the money men on Wall Street and your local banker are supposed to be impressed. One could call Windows 7 a killer app on Intel iron. You'd, of course, be mistaken, since W7 is simply a rearrangement of Vista which was a rearrangement of XP. Of course, you might be killed (heart attack or stroke) trying to install any these killer apps on your machine, when you discover exactly what it is that they didn't tell you before you started.--72.75.76.40 (talk) 19:36, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Twitter and Settlers[edit]

The paragraph about Twitter and Settlers of Catan, which I just deleted, was inconsistent with the definition we've offered. Twitter obviously isn't the "killer app" of the Internet since the Internet was broadly popular long before Twitter came on the scene. And Settlers of Catan isn't even part of a technological platform, so it obviously doesn't fit the definition.

People use "killer app" as a generic buzzword in all sorts of situations. If we included every such instance this article would become hopelessly cluttered. Binarybits (talk) 20:43, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

But including those two cited instances isn't the same as including every such instance. Instead, they show that the term is used more generically than the narrower definition. -- JHunterJ (talk) 01:24, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
In the Settlers of Catan article, the author goes out of his way to explain why he is using the term outside of its regular definition, which would be evidence that it's a one-off rhetorical device and not something the reader would expect as normal usage. The "Twitter GURU" article (online here) is apparently an effort to include every buzzword known to man in a short article by someone who thinks "guru" is an acronym. BCoates (talk) 06:36, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Request and clarification[edit]

First off, I don't believe hot selling games should be called killer apps, especially not recent games. Shareware games should be considered but the word 'app' is archaic language, definitely not found in any software titles anymore. Applications morphed into Programs, certain terms fell out of favor (ex. 'master','slave') and the thought of 'wii' games being thought of as killer apps tells me people don't understand this term. It isn't about sales numbers either. Killer app is the idea of someone creating a new application for the computer that represents a pioneer of it's kind. When these apps came out, they weren't popular simply for enjoyment, but for the realization that they provided a new way of doing complex tasks in easy terms. A killer game app would be the first game to support multi-player and have people play (Doom death match), it wouldn't be Zelda 6 because it sold well and came on a new game system. Maybe I've just been around longer, grew up with the computer when it was already blossoming at 1989 (I was born in 83 but they were too expensive then). Killer app? Oregon Trail because it was one of the first games to be used on school computers. PowerPoint is another great example because it's popularity spawned its own terminology. Now a Power Point is a verb, it's something you will see for yourself ect ect. That is 'Killer App'.

Maybe another reason for the confusion is that 'killer' in this way being used, is a Southern California Surfer term. People outside of California might see 'killer' as different then the very laid back use by CA Surfers (and Jeff Spicoli). But it makes sense also because many software developers at the time were in California and were exposed to the term.

That being said, I'd like to request AutoCAD, PowerPoint, and Oregon Trail for being killer apps when they first premiered. 68.5.97.182 (talk) 07:44, 7 February 2010 (UTC) (logged on Fadedroots (talk) 07:45, 7 February 2010 (UTC) )

iLife's status as a killer app[edit]

I'm not meaning to be offensive to any Mac aficionados, nor trying to start a fight, but I don't think iLife is a killer app. I don't hear people talking about how great it would be to have iLife and that it alone justifies buying a Mac. Can anyone substantiate the claim? I'd be more inclined to believe that Final Cut is a killer app, although it's probably too expensive to really boost consumer sales, since I hear a lot of people talk about how great that is, and since most of my friends in film/video bought a mac just for final cut. Tealwisp (talk) 16:05, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

List removed[edit]

I've removed the list of killer apps from the article, since it includes no references and seems like a magnet for original research. I moved it here if anyone wants to work on finding references for it.

Selected applications for computer systems

tktktk 19:55, 24 April 2010 (UTC)

I'm reinstating Sibelius because it now has a reference (and a link back to this article). --Trevj (talk) 14:09, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
Also reinstating VisiCalc (with {{cn}}), as deemed uncontentious. --Trevj (talk) 09:27, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

E-mail as Killer App?[edit]

Hi - first time post.

I've heard before that e-mail would be considered as a killer app, with its platform being the internet. Does it deserve inclusion? It definitely made the internet what it is today... Would it not be the ultimate killer app?

Bing search "e-mail as killer app" to return nearly 6m results. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 131.107.0.81 (talk) 18:06, 4 June 2010 (UTC)


Goldeneye?[edit]

Goldeneye is NOT a killer app, surely —Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.168.6.230 (talk) 12:57, 10 October 2010 (UTC) Growing up in the 90's there were only two killer apps for N64. That is, games that you bought an N64 just to play. Ocarina of Time and Goldeneye 007. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.8.247.150 (talk) 16:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Sour grapes[edit]

Regarding the section about Macintosh being a niche market for design, what's up with: "despite the fact that PCs running Windows or Linux have been capable of running versions of some of the same applications since the early 1990s." Besides that just being an odd statement, I can pretty much guarantee that no one uses Linux for any sort of artistic production. You can almost sense the attitude of the author, implying that he doesn't know why Macintosh is popular for creativity. To me, it just reads like sour grapes. --ComradeSlice (talk) 18:09, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

3DS killer app[edit]

IGN stated that Super Mario 3D Land is the killer app for the Nintendo 3DS handheld in their article titled "How Mario Saved the 3DS" I'd edit the page myself, but I don't [want to know] how to create links to other pages on Wikipedia, let alone references to outside websites. 173.81.241.53 (talk) 18:56, 7 December 2011 (UTC)

video game list[edit]

i think the list should be much much shorter. VisiCalc was bringing computers in "every office" and started a new industry while most of those games "only" did push the sale of one system for a short while. the only gaming killerapp i can see is Pong, it did start electronic arcade games and video game consoles, but is not even listed here. 212.90.151.91 (talk) 12:23, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

pack-ins[edit]

Pack-ins like Donkey Kong (Colecovision) Tetris (GB) and Super Mario Bros (NES) are not killer apps, as they didn't sell extra hardware, surely, otherwise Combat (Atari VCS 2600) should be a killer app too. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.154.74.145 (talk) 14:43, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

BitCoin as KillerApp[edit]

BitCoin digging programs are KillerApps for AMD 7970, x290X graphics cards. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Daroooo (talkcontribs) 16:28, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

UNIX a killer app for DEC computers[edit]

Hi, i wrote the 3rd paragraph about UNIX being a 'killer app' for digital computers. I recognize that it is a less-strong but still, very relevant example. Many universities would buy PDP-11's and VAXen *only* to run UNIX, never intending to run the DEC operating systems at all. Digital almost "monpolized" the academic market for small computers and operating systems from the mid 1970's through the early 1990's because of a piece of software that they had no hand in writing (their own flavor of UNIX, Ultrix, was a failure at most schools.) I worked with UNIX #1 at UIUC and was an undergrad in CS from 1980-84 and CS grad student 1986-1993. SystemBuilder (talk) 01:24, 18 August 2016 (UTC)