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 or a gaming console. A killer app can substantially increase sales of the platform on which it runs.
One of the first examples of a killer application is generally agreed to be the VisiCalc spreadsheet on the Apple II platform. The machine was purchased in the thousands by finance workers on the strength of this program. Other examples include Space Invaders (for arcades) and the Halo series (for Xbox and Xbox 360 gaming consoles).
But there is no one Killer App for the iPad. There are dozens of categories of uses, thousands of apps. The iPad started out popular, then became a phenomenon. But nobody can agree on what it’s best used for.
What’s Your Killer App?
Many of my clients ask me about the iPad. Do you have one? Yes. Do you like it? Yes. What do you use it for? I use mine largely for couch computing – web browsing, email, weather monitoring, and using Remote for controlling iTunes playback throughout the house.
Some people use it as an eBook reader with iBooks. Or as a productivity tool with Pages and Keynote, InstaPaper and Dropbox. The Cloud lets you view your files wherever you are, in or out of the office.
Many folks are using the iPad as a media viewer or TV replacement. Watching Netflix, Hulu, or (if you’re lucky) your local cable channels. Listening to Pandora or NPR podcasts – very handy during fundraisers!
It’s something to keep the kids occupied. Quite a versatile thing in fact, engrossing, engaging, and entertaining. Another kind of TV replacement.
Making music is growing in popularity, there are lots of virtual instruments, recording applications, and a killer new GarageBand for iOS. iBands are no longer a novelty.
The iPad is excellent for training and education. You can take classes, run classes, even run your whole school! It also seeing growing popularity for medical imaging and records management.
And, the latest reports are that iPad 2 makes one of the best portable gaming platforms on the market.
My clients also ask: Do you really need one? Well no, not really. Not with multiple Macs, an iPhone, and several AV systems already in my technology arsenal. But do I appreciate what the iPad can do? Absolutely. It’s a $599 slab-of-wonder. It does so many things well.
But we haven’t yet seen something which totally defines the medium. There is no one thing driving use and sales. No single answer to the question, what do you use your iPad for?
The App Store
So, what is the Killer App for the iPad?
I think the answer is: the App Store. That vehicle which so easily and seamlessly allow people to add capability to their iPads. It’s the heart of the iOS software ecosystem – and which, by design, is the only (official) place to get iOS software. It’s where everything for iPad comes together for distribution, and where nearly all developers want their software to be found. Without the App Store, there would be nothing else.
The App Store is the iPad’s Killer App.
At least, today.