Killer application

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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, a gaming console, software, a programming language, a software platform, or an operating system. [1] 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. [2] [3]

Computer program Instructions to be executed by a computer

A computer program is a collection of instructions that performs a specific task when executed by a computer. Most computer devices require programs to function properly.

Computer hardware physical components of a computer

Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is "hard" or rigid with respect to changes or modifications; whereas software is "soft" because it is easy to update or change. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", which is software that is strongly coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but also among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface. The progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

Contents

Examples

VisiCalc, the earliest generally agreed-upon example of a killer application Visicalc.png
VisiCalc, the earliest generally agreed-upon example of a killer application

One of the first recognized examples of a killer application is generally agreed to be the VisiCalc spreadsheet for the Apple II series. [4] Because it was not available on other computers for 12 months, people spent $100 for the software first, then $2,000 to $10,000 on the Apple computer they needed to run it. [5] BYTE wrote in 1980, "VisiCalc is the first program available on a microcomputer that has been responsible for sales of entire systems", [6] while Creative Computing 's VisiCalc review was subtitled "reason enough for owning a computer". [7] Others also chose to develop software, such as EasyWriter, for the Apple II first because of its higher sales, helping Apple defeat rivals Commodore International and Tandy Corporation. [5]

VisiCalc spreadsheet software

VisiCalc was the first spreadsheet computer program for personal computers, originally released for the Apple II by VisiCorp. It is often considered the application that turned the microcomputer from a hobby for computer enthusiasts into a serious business tool, prompting IBM to introduce the IBM PC two years later. VisiCalc is considered the Apple II's killer app. It sold over 700,000 copies in six years, and as many as 1 million copies over its history.

A spreadsheet is an interactive computer application for organization, analysis and storage of data in tabular form. Spreadsheets developed as computerized analogs of paper accounting worksheets. The program operates on data entered in cells of a table. Each cell may contain either numeric or text data, or the results of formulas that automatically calculate and display a value based on the contents of other cells. A spreadsheet may also refer to one such electronic document.

Apple II series series of computers made by Apple

The Apple II series is a family of home computers, one of the first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak, manufactured by Apple Computer, and launched in 1977 with the original Apple II. In terms of ease of use, features, and expandability, the Apple II was a major advancement over its predecessor, the Apple I, a limited-production bare circuit board computer for electronics hobbyists. Through 1988, a number of models were introduced, with the most popular, the Apple IIe, remaining changed relatively little into the 1990s. A 16-bit model with much more advanced graphics and sound, the Apple IIGS, was added in 1986. While compatible with earlier Apple II systems, the IIGS was in closer competition with the Atari ST and Amiga.

Lotus 1-2-3 similarly benefited sales of the IBM PC and compatibles, just as VisiCalc did for Apple sales. Noting that computer purchasers did not want PC compatibility as much as compatibility with certain PC software, InfoWorld suggested "let's tell it like it is. Let's not say 'PC compatible,' or even 'MS-DOS compatible.' Instead, let's say '1-2-3 compatible.'" [5] [8] Another killer app is WordStar, the most popular word processor during much of the 1980s. [9]

Lotus 1-2-3 software

Lotus 1-2-3 is a discontinued spreadsheet program from Lotus Software. It was the IBM PC's first killer application, was hugely popular in the 1980s and contributed significantly to the success of the IBM PC.

<i>InfoWorld</i> information technology media business

InfoWorld is an information technology media business. Founded in 1978, it began as a monthly magazine. In 2007, it transitioned to a Web-only publication. Its parent company is International Data Group, and its sister publications include Macworld and PC World. InfoWorld is based in San Francisco, with contributors and supporting staff based across the United States.

WordStar Word processor application

WordStar was a word processor application that had a dominant market share during the early- to mid-1980s. It was published by MicroPro International, and written for the CP/M operating system but later ported to MS-DOS. Although Seymour I. Rubinstein was the principal owner of the company, Rob Barnaby was the sole author of the early versions of the program. Starting with WordStar 4.0, the program was built on new code written principally by Peter Mierau.

The UNIX Operating System served as a killer application for the DEC PDP-11 minicomputer and VAX-11 minicomputer during roughly 1975–1985. Many of the PDP-11 and VAX-11 processors never ran DEC's operating systems (RSTS or VAX/VMS), but instead, they ran UNIX, which was first licensed in 1975. To get a virtual-memory UNIX (BSD 3.0) you had to purchase a VAX-11 computer. Many universities wanted a general-purpose timesharing system that would meet the needs of students and researchers (early versions of UNIX included free compilers for C, Fortran, and Pascal; at the time, offering even one free compiler was unprecedented). From its inception UNIX could drive high-quality typesetting equipment and later PostScript printers using the nroff/troff typesetting language, and this was also unprecedented for its time. UNIX was the first operating system offered in source-license form (a university license cost only $10,000, less than a PDP-11), allowing it to run on an unlimited number of machines, and allowing the machines to interface to any type of hardware because the UNIX I/O system was extensible.

PDP-11 Series of 16-bit minicomputers

The PDP-11 is a series of 16-bit minicomputers sold by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from 1970 into the 1990s, one of a succession of products in the PDP series. In total, around 600,000 PDP-11s of all models were sold, making it one of DEC's most successful product lines. The PDP-11 is considered by some experts to be the most popular minicomputer ever.

VAX-11

The VAX-11 is a discontinued family of minicomputers developed and manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) using processors implementing the VAX instruction set architecture (ISA), succeeding the PDP-11. The VAX-11/780 is the first VAX computer.

PostScript (PS) is a page description language in the electronic publishing and desktop publishing business. It is a dynamically typed, concatenative programming language and was created at Adobe Systems by John Warnock, Charles Geschke, Doug Brotz, Ed Taft and Bill Paxton from 1982 to 1984.

Usage

The first recorded use of the term in print was 1988, in PC Week 24 May. 39/1. "Everybody has only one killer application. The secretary has a word processor. The manager has a spreadsheet." [10]

The definition of "killer app" came up during Bill Gates's questioning in the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case. 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.

Non-gaming applications

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, by virtue of being exclusive to that platform. Such a game is also known in gaming parlance as a "system seller". Examples of a video game killer applications are:

See also

Related Research Articles

History of video games aspect of history

The history of video games goes as far back as the early 1950s, when academic computer scientists began designing simple games and simulations as part of their research or just for fun. At M.I.T. in the 1960s, professors and students played games such as 3D tic-tac-toe and Moon Landing. These games were played on computer such as the IBM 1560, and moves were made by means of punch cards. Video gaming did not reach mainstream popularity until the 1970s and 1980s, when video arcade games and gaming consoles using joysticks, buttons, and other controllers, along with graphics on computer screens and home computer games were introduced to the general public. Since the 1980s, video gaming has become a popular form of entertainment and a part of modern popular culture in most parts of the world. One of the early games was Spacewar!, which was developed by computer scientists. Early arcade video games developed from 1972 to 1978. During the 1970s, the first generation of home consoles emerged, including the popular game Pong and various "clones". The 1970s was also the era of mainframe computer games. The golden age of arcade video games was from 1978 to 1982. Video arcades with large, graphics-decorated coin-operated machines were common at malls and popular, affordable home consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision enabled people to play games on their home TVs. During the 1980s, gaming computers, early online gaming and handheld LCD games emerged; this era was affected by the video game crash of 1983. From 1976 to 1992, the second generation of video consoles emerged.

A computing platform or digital platform is the environment in which a piece of software is executed. It may be the hardware or the operating system (OS), even a web browser and associated application programming interfaces, or other underlying software, as long as the program code is executed with it. Computing platforms have different abstraction levels, including a computer architecture, an OS, or runtime libraries. A computing platform is the stage on which computer programs can run.

This is a list of all video game lists on Wikipedia, sorted by varying classifications.

2005 saw the release of many sequels and prequels in video games, such as Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Mario Kart DS, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, alongside several prominent new releases including F.E.A.R., Forza Motorsport, God of War, Guitar Hero and Sniper Elite.

Visi On

VisiCorp Visi On was a short-lived but highly influential graphical user interface-based operating environment program for IBM compatible personal computers running MS-DOS. Although Visi On was never popular, as it had steep minimum system requirements for its day, it was a major influence on the later development of Microsoft Windows.

Homebrew (video games)

Homebrew is a term frequently applied to video games or other software produced by consumers to target proprietary hardware platforms that are not typically user-programmable or that use proprietary storage methods. This can include games developed with official development kits, such as Net Yaroze, Linux for PlayStation 2 or Microsoft XNA. A game written by a non-professional developer for a system intended to be consumer-programmable, like the Commodore 64, is simply called hobbyist.

Dan Fylstra is a pioneer of the software products industry.

The 2000s in video gaming was a decade that was primarily dominated by Sony, Nintendo, the newcomer Microsoft, and their respective systems. Sega, being Nintendo's main rival in the 1980s and 1990s, left the console market in 2002 in favor of returning to the third party company they once were. Overall the decade saw the last of the low resolution three-dimensional polygons of the 1990s with the emergence of High Definition games, and often focused on developing immersive and interactive environments, implementing realistic physics, and improving artificial intelligence.

In the history of video games, the seventh generation of home consoles began in late 2005 with the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360, and continued with the release of Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Nintendo's Wii the following year. Each new console introduced a new type of breakthrough in technology: the Xbox 360 could play games rendered natively at high-definition video (HD) resolutions; the PlayStation 3 offered HD movie playback via a built-in 3D Blu-ray Disc player; while the Wii focused on integrating controllers with movement sensors as well as joysticks. Some Wii controllers could be moved about to control in-game actions, which enabled players to simulate real-world actions through movement during gameplay. By this generation, video game consoles had become an important part of the global IT infrastructure; it is estimated that video game consoles represented 25% of the world's general-purpose computational power in 2007.

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Nintendo video game consoles Wikimedia list article

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Video game console emulator program that reproduces video game consoles behavior

A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing device to emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications, one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or more rare consoles.

Platform exclusivity (also known as console exclusivity refers to the status of a video game being developed for and released only on one particular platform. Most commonly, it refers to only being released on a specific video game console or through a specific vendor's platforms

A home video game console, or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.

Wii U home video game console released by Nintendo in 2012

The Wii U is a home video game console developed by Nintendo as the successor to the Wii. Released in November 2012, it was the first eighth-generation video game console and competed with Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

In the history of video games, the eighth generation of consoles is the current generation. It includes those consoles released since 2012 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home video game consoles, the eighth generation began on November 18, 2012, with the release of the Wii U, and continued with the release of the PlayStation 4 on November 15, 2013, and the Xbox One on November 22, 2013. The Wii U was the first home console of this generation to be discontinued, on January 31, 2017, to make way for Nintendo's second home console competitor, the Switch, released on March 3, 2017. These video game consoles follow their seventh generation predecessors from the same three companies: Nintendo's Wii, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

Game development kits (GDK) are specialized hardware used to create commercial videogames. They may be partnered with game development tools, special game engine licenses, and other middleware to aid video game development. GDKs are typically not available to the public, and require game developers to enter an agreement, partnership, or program with the hardware manufacturer to gain access to the hardware. As game console generations pass, development kits often get sold through websites like eBay without repercussions. This is often because the console manufacturers discontinue certain development programs as time passes.

References

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  10. Earliest usage cited in Oxford English Dictionary
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