Book Review : Unleashing the Killer App

For my business information systems class, we were assigned to read the book "Unleashing the Killer App : Digital Strategies for Market Dominance" by Larry Downes & Chunka Mui. I thought it was an outstanding book covering the changes that any Killer App technology can have on a firm, and how best to enable your firm to not only cultivate a Killer App, but to know how to deal with the result of unleashing one.

The book is primarily focused on a discussion of the 12 critical tenets to unleashing a killer app:

  1. Outsource to the customer
  2. Cannabalize your markets
  3. Treat each customer as a market segment of one
  4. Create communities of value
  5. Replace rude interfaces with learning interfaces
  6. Ensure continuity for the customer, not yourself
  7. Give away as much information as you can
  8. Structure every transaction as a joint venture
  9. Treat your assets as liabilities
  10. Destroy your value chain
  11. Manage innovation as a portfolio of options
  12. Hire the children

I found the book very easy to read and easy to pick up on the concepts that the authors were trying to get across. This is a book that you can sit down and read in a single sitting, and come away with ideas of how to make your business better, and how to be Killer App friendly. You can either purchase a hard copy from Amazon, or read the entire book online.

Don't let the title fool you, this is not a how to manual on creating killer app technology. Instead, it is a primer on how killer apps and new technology fundamentally effect the economic and business environment. Heavily based on the economic research of Coase, and Moore's and Metcalfe's laws, the authors put forth sound reasoning on how new technologies will continue to change businesses. The book was originally released in 1996, and some of the examples may seem a bit dated, but the information and guidance the book provides is timeless. For anyone desiring to succeed in business today, the topics shouldn't be new to you, but it should be a reminder of the pitfalls that some business succumb to.

After reading this book, I immediately came away with ideas of how to change our business for the better. We are a services company, and although we don't have a specific product, our services are our killer app. In order to enhance that killer app status, we can utilize some of basic principals enumerated in the chapters to continuously improve our business.


Jade Mason