Where Are The Killer Mobile Apps?

By: Brian Cardarella

Every platform should have the Killer App The AppleII had VisiCalc, 3D accelerated hardware had Quake, and the XBox had Halo (just some examples of killer apps). Are we to believe that games such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja are the true Killer Apps for mobile?

I don’t think so

IMO a killer app must provide a reason for you to purchase the hardware. The software is so good, something that you cannot obtain on any other platform that you will shell out a few hundred dollars to purchase the entire system. Even though I see many people playing these games on their mobile phone I find it hard to believe they bought their mobile phones for the purpose of any one of these games.

The platform of the future

In a recent Fast Company interview, Bill Nguyen spoke about the “post-PC world”. In summary:

When Steve [Jobs] describes the post-PC world, all the things that were written in the PC world are almost doomed to fail. Everything that Facebook built as a technology was based on old technology. It was all around this premise that you’ll sit in front of this machine that has no idea who you are, so you have to tell it—who you are and what you like.

IBM didn’t survive the PC, none of the PC guys survived the web, and I don’t think any of the web guys will survive the post-PC world

Now, if you ignore some of the bullshit Bill is spouting (as the article points out, IBM is a $100-billion-a-year company) I think there is actually some substance here. Each technology company developers products in the age they are in. Then they get big and it becomes difficult for them to adapt. In some cases, they don’t want to adapt as that implies risk. For a company making billions of dollars, why would they want to take on any risk? It doesn’t make sense. So when the state-of-the-art moves forward there becomes opportunity for disruption. We’re currently in the beginning of this “Post-PC world”.

If there is no killer app then why do I have a phone?

That’s a good question. When I think about what defines my experience as a mobile user I come up with: email, Twitter, maps, and phone calls. In that order. I’m sure it is different for many people but these are my reasons. To be perfectly honest, maps is the only item that is not better on my PC.

Email and Twitter I can lump together, typing on my keyboard vs typing on my iPhone is no-contest. However, with the recent release of Siri it might be heading back in the other direction. Dictating emails is actually pretty good. I would really like to be able to tell Siri:

Tweet at somebody: How is it going?

Considering that Twitter is integrated into iOS 5 I do not understand why this was not added.

Making phone calls on my phone is actually not very good. AT&T still drops calls, and the voice quality is terrible. I usually just VoIP all important calls from my gMail account.

Geolocating myself with maps and getting directions is great. Of course his is better than the PC.

And that’s the point

Maps are a better experience on my phone because they make use of several technologies that my PC does have: GPS and compass.

Whatever the killer for mobile ends up being it is going to make use of the unique technology available. I suspect most developers are just now starting to get their head out of the box of the stationary apps.