What is a Killer Application?

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  • Written By: Luke Arthur
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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The term killer application is used to describe a computer program that is vital to the success of a piece of hardware. In many cases, the killer application is responsible for increased sales of the platform on which the program is run. One of the most common examples of a killer application is with video games. Certain popular games can influence the sales of a gaming console significantly.

A killer application is also sometimes referred to as a killer app. In most cases, individuals regard applications as essential when referring to a particular computer or gaming system. This means that in the eyes of the general public, one of the only reasons to own the hardware is to be able to access the software.

Hardware developers are always on the lookout for the development of a killer application. If the developer can successfully implement the development of a killer application, it can seriously impact the success of the hardware itself. If a particular system has a killer application designed for it, this can drastically improve sales of the platform overall.


The most common application of this phenomenon is in the gaming industry. With multiple gaming platforms, certain games are only available on specific platforms. When a game becomes extremely popular and is unlike anything else on the market, it can drastically impact the viability of the system on which it is played. The market will clamor for access to this particular system just so that the game will be accessible.

Killer apps are becoming more difficult for video game systems to come by. Most of the biggest game titles in the market today are released on multiple platforms. It takes a special situation to create a killer app dedicated to being played on only one gaming system. For many software companies, the best solution to increase sales is to make games widely available on multiple gaming platforms. If a particular game is limited to only one platform, the manufacturer of the game might view this as limiting sales.

In the past, there were several killer apps that could be found on computer systems. With the way computers have developed, most computer programs can be run on any type of computer. This has severely limited the amount of killer applications that have been developed for the computer industry over the years.


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