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Unleashing the Killer App

Digital Strategies for Market Dominance

Unleashing the Killer App by Larry Downes and Chunka Mui
By Larry Downes and Chunka Mui

Published by Harvard Business School Press, 1998
Hardback, 262 pages
ISBN: 0-87584-801-X

In terms of Internet time, this book is ancient, having been first published in 1998. Yet is was - and still is - a ground-breaking book that sets out a management strategy for adapting to, and benefiting from, a 'killer application'.

A 'killer app' is described as a new application that is so powerful it transforms industries, redefines markets and annihilates the competition that cannot adapt. Such examples as the compass, cotton gin and Model T Ford are used as examples from the past, whilst in today's context, this book focuses on the power of the personal computer, e-mail and the World Wide Web.

The authors describe how to harness the potential of the new 'killer apps' to succeed in the new digital economy. They outline the strategies for success, including abandoning the accepted technologies and rewriting the rules for business growth. They also set out 12 principles of 'killer app' design, divided into three stages of strategy, using examples from the business world.

Although this book contains a heady mix of optimism and enthusiasm for the potential of the Internet, it was written before the .com fall at the end of the Millennium. Perhaps more than ever, many of the fundamental principles that the authors describe remain as true today as they were just a few years ago. Now however, tempered by the experience of hindsight, this book can provide a perceptive and enlightening view on how to make a business succeed in the age of the Internet.