Killer Application


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

Killer Application

What is ‘Killer Application’

A software package that is novel and desirable enough to persuade a consumer to buy pricier hardware in order to run the application. The term “killer application” may be derived from the fact that such an application is perceived to be innovative enough to overcome the competition.

Better known as “killer app.”

Explaining ‘Killer Application’

Word-processing software and spreadsheets were widely considered to be the killer apps of the 1980s, when personal computers started getting popular. Similarly, Internet browsers and webmail were the killer apps that fueled the online and dotcom boom of the 1990s.

Killer apps are instrumental in driving rapid growth in sales of the platform on which they are based. While some companies that develop killer apps can enjoy substantial margins and profits for many years, this competitive advantage does not last for long for most companies in the dynamic world of technology, where short product life cycles are the norm rather than the exception.

Further Reading

  • The search for the “killer application”: Drawing the boundaries around the sonification of scientific data – [PDF]
  • Hype, hope and hubris: the quest for the killer application in microfluidics – [PDF]
  • Video on Demand: Killer App or Siren's Song – [PDF]
  • The economics of tail events with an application to climate change – [PDF]
  • Foreign direct investment and economic transition: Panacea or pain killer? – [PDF]
  • The recording that never wanted to be heard and other stories of sonification – [PDF]
  • The killer application that may eat its siblings – [PDF]
  • A proposed model for mobile commerce applications in the financial services industry: A catalyst for the African economic renaissance – [PDF]