Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Tim O'Reilly Points Toward Next 'Killer App' 109

santos_douglas writes "Extreme Tech has this article in which Tim O'Reilly, the man behind every geeks favorite tech manuals, points toward four major leading indicators that will predict the next likely 'killer app' to emerge from the hacker community. They are: (1) web services (2) BARWN (3) Hardware hackers and (4) online gaming communities."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tim O'Reilly Points Toward Next 'Killer App'

Comments Filter:
  • Hrmmm (Score:1, Redundant)

    by HughJampton ( 659996 )
    Why didn't he include big, sexy beowulf clusters? Or plans to slashdot the world?

    • Re:Hrmmm (Score:3, Funny)

      by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )
      maybe because beowulf clusters are rubbish compared to big web-distributed computing projects.

      Plans to /. to world.... its a 'killer app', but not in the sense that most people understand it ;-)
    • Those are 'killer apps'?

      Geezus! This guy is way behind the times... The most recent fad on that list of famous four is wireless. What a dOrK.

  • by Yarn ( 75 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:04AM (#5818891) Homepage
    Uh huh. QuakeNet (Currently ~150,000 users []) has been going since Quake came out in '96. I think Tim's a little slow on the uptake there. (Disclaimer, I'm an operator on QuakeNet)
    • Perhaps the point will be 20 fold when it gets really REALLY popular. Or expect thousands and billions of quakenets.

      Note, XBox, PS2... all the consoles are really getting hot in the online arena.
    • by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:29AM (#5818995) Journal

      Ah, but being a user to QuakeNet doesn't automagically mean that they all play Quake. I know plenty of people who reg at QuakeNet yet hate Quake itself... They even hate the entire FPS genre, they're on QuakeNet just for fun or other games or what else. I'm not saying Quake isn't popular, but measuring the popularity of it against the number of users on an IRC network is kinda flawed.

      Heck, online gaming communities are flawed imho anyways. If I want to game, I want to fly a spaceship and blow up stuff, trading salvages crap and doing whatnot. I want to run around with a big run, shooting people and getting shot myself. I want to run around with WW2 weapons, jump in aircraft and take the battle to the sky! If I just wanted to chat I wouldn't buy the damn game and join a random community instead.

    • by tprox ( 621523 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:31AM (#5818998)
      I agree. Tim seems to be lagging behind. As far as games go, with Everquest and Half-Life, the new games to come out need to have something different than the tried-and-true formulas already out there.

      It seems that people who want to play games online already are.

      For each of those examples, I'm sure you can find multiple examples of the same thing and glaring "WTF's": Amazon front ends downloadable for free? Isn't that basically what Slashcode and a number of other things are? Oh wait, they're not associated with Amazon. Ubiquitous Wireless Networking? Nice for infrastructure, but IMO hardly a killer app. Oh, and don't get me started on the "Alpha Geeks Hardware Hack into the Security of the System".

    • 'vi' mode for mozilla text edit boxes. That would be a good idea... but I want an "amaya" mode.

      And IF it must be a 'vi' mode, at least 'emacs'!!!

      But my main point is RIGHT on... richer editing functions from within html forms... it would be a godsend for so many of these web form front ends. (e.g. I've been using Zope for some stuff and I would love this... the problem with an amaya front end being you edit HTML fragments... so a vi or emacs mode would cover more ground.
  • by eenglish_ca ( 662371 ) <{eenglish} {at} {}> on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:06AM (#5818902) Homepage
    Were gonna have a huge mass of incompatible hardware with lots of advertising for products on amazon, gonna be wireless with one of the standards making it only usuable in one part of the bay and will actually be made to play online games with. ha ha ha, actually that sounds a lot like modern laptops if you outfit them completely.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:07AM (#5818904)
    "next major breakthrough", it's in about a 1/3 of the emails I receive every day! There must be lots of breakthroughts and killer apps out there, after all email doesn't lie. In fact, right now the wife's up to double d, using some of that money from dead nigerian presidents, we're on vacation on that free offer to barbadoes, and don't even ask what's down my pants these days!

    No, there is only one killer app everyone really wants and needs. It's the killer app that kills spam...
    • No, there is only one killer app everyone really wants and needs. It's the killer app that kills spam...

      Yes, and it's called SpamAssassin [].
      • I have been using SpamAssassin for 6 months and I still have 20-30 messages a day get through. There is no amount of filtering in the world that can stop all spam. We need to rethink the who concept of how email works and I think that has been done by TMDA

        This last week alone I got 1349 SPAM messages, SpamAssassin caught about 1000 but only one SPAM got through TMDA. Not to mention there was no legit email lost.

        I have now turned off SpamAssassin for good since it is no longer necessar
    • Completely true. Spam gets a ton of media coverage because it's something that the Average User can understand. The Average User doesn't want to spend time on their modem downloading HTML messages instead of family photos, doesn't want their kids seeing come-ons for barnyard action, and has at least a vague idea that spam is somehow taking advantage of them. In contrast, a lot of these other ideas for the next Killer App are solutions in search of a problem that may or may not exist.

      A spam solution that do

  • by johny_qst ( 623876 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:09AM (#5818916) Journal
    I saw a lot of "yeah-technology" arguments about where grass-roots development is happening. But having access to buying things from amazon ubiquitously in my daily life.... don't need it or want it... does anyone? Gaming communities... maybe... let's see what happens to doom III mods at the end of the year... Wireless Networking... I like to go for walks to enjoy nature, not to focus on some digital device... Does anyone really see a killer app here?
    • by Rick the Red ( 307103 ) <> on Sunday April 27, 2003 @11:07AM (#5819145) Journal
      There's a problem with predicting the future -- it's almost impossible. We won't know the next "killer app" until it bites us on the butt.

      My buddies and I used to try and guess the next "killer car" -- the Corvair was our benchmark. It was cheap and available and then suddenly it was rare, expensive, and desireable. The question was what car to buy today that would be worth more tomorrow. So far we're batting zero on that one. The Datsun 240Z and Mazda RX-7 looked promising, but they made so damn many of them that they never became rare. In hindsite I'd have to say we'll never see another Corvair. We were trying to use history to predict the future, but the future is always somehow different in some key way. I think Mr. O'Reilly is making the same mistake.

      • I'd go for something that looks interesting but is not too reliable. A good example are the older model Citroën cars: very popular, at least in Europe. They've always been innovators (they made the first front wheel drive for example), they look unusual, but overall they are rather unreliable, mostly due to being overengineered. Already it's hard to find decently-running older models and there will always be a large market: every self-respecting architect wants a Citroën. Shame their recent mo
      • is it necessary then, to only be able to apply the term 'killer app', if i understand it correctly, to things allready in past tense? i say that audio via p2p is a killer app - but what point did it/will it become so? when napster first came out? when napster was taken down and replaced by gnutella/whoever else? or is it yet to come when we can, as stated elsewhere in this thread[i'm really sorry i'm not linking- im still new with this linux thing and i havent yet figured howt he copy/paste work
  • by noogle ( 664169 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:10AM (#5818920)
    gnutella-style non-centralized encrypted file-sharing thing with full irc-style-chat and superduper intelligent dynamic node management type stuff to regulate the network.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:11AM (#5818923)
    the real innovation occuring in the industry - at least right now - is in the data mining field...
  • What do.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:11AM (#5818924)
    "(1) web services (2) BARWN (3) Hardware hackers and (4) online gaming communities." add up to?

    A wireless internet virtual reality gaming chair in which everything, including the chair part, is patented up the wazoo.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:15AM (#5818940)
    ...Like BitTorrent.

    It's a bit difficult to think of distributed services being for anyone other than uber-geeks and people who desperately need processing power. We've been doing distributed number crunching for a few years now, so it's only a matter of time before distributed services take hold. Distributed downloading, which was started by the various P2P apps and has been almost perfected by BitTorrent is the next iteration of that. Imagine what the next iteration of this tech will bring. Imagine hosting your entire website off of your own computer, but as part of a 'distributed' web with a browser Torrent plugin to make bandwidth seem thicker and easier to come by.

    Other distributed services are just around the corner.
    • BT is an amazingly powerful bit of technology. To see it at work try []. Its main disadvantage?!?

      It has to be handled thru a plugin. Imagine the savings if this HTML worked: <IMG SRC="/very_big_image.jpg.torrent">

      Yeah, it works! (Red Hat 9 ISOs so soon were a miracle!)

      But the Moz guys need to incorporate Torrent tech directly into the browser! That's serve as a huge wakeup call to IE, and we might see a new feature for the first time in NNN years...

    • Just with a quick browsing through the list of responses, I think that this suggestion stands out as both well thought-out and has a reasonable hope of being accurate.

      Napster's explosive growth was the first sign that P2P apps had the potential to be a killer app. The wide perception is that the P2P music swapping apps are driving the uptake of broadband usage in the US and elsewhere. Even with their somewhat difficult interfaces and limited success of searches, the current P2P apps are wildly popular.

  • Personally I really believe that music is the next Killer App on the Internet. Now that labels are starting to embrace the technology - and Apples download agreements for the iPod look very very interesting - this will pull people in due to the convenience of getting singles.

    And singles are the driver of Album sales (albeit a loss leader) and priced at the stupidly low levels that they can be set at on a medium like the Internet (99 cents has been mentioned) that is well within the means of teenagers everywhere.

    I think this will be a virtuous circle of people putting the singles directly onto iPod mp3 players and the like and then going back for more. This could really change the whole nature of Album sales (often containing more than a couple of duff tracks to make up the numbers) and providing the mechanism for download is both strong enough to be profitable and not too strong as to irritate customers then they could have a winner. Both for the music companies and the Internet as a whole...

    • by stak ( 3074 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:35AM (#5819011)
      I agree. Downloading music off the internet drives computer sales, high speed internet services, portable music players, car stereos that can play MP3s, CDR & DVDR burners, and blank media sales.

      The 10 CDs that I use to buy a year for $140 have been replaced by $40 a month internet service, a $1500 3 year computer replacment cycle, spindles of CDR, and a $600 Pioneer car stereo to listen to my MP3 collection.

      I think in the future music will be given away to drive sales of more expensive products. Just like TV shows. Companies give the content away but you still have to buy a $300 box to view it.

  • by News for nerds ( 448130 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:20AM (#5818960) Homepage
    O'Reilly - Web Services Nutshell
    O'Reilly - Essential BARWN
    O'Reilly - Hardware Hackers Pocket Reference
    O'Reilly - Online Gaming The Definitive Guide
  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#5818968) Homepage
    The next killer application for the internet will be govermental spyware for control of the masses.
    Welcome to the beautiful world of mind control probes.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't believe anything he says. The government is making him say that the government is using spyware and mind-control. It's a lie to empower the U.N. shadow government to take over the world.
  • Has someone been reading /.
  • bah (Score:5, Funny)

    by asv108 ( 141455 ) * <.asv. .at.> on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:23AM (#5818975) Homepage Journal
    The term killer app is so overused. The title for this article should really be:

    "Tim Oreilly tries to promote next conference.."

  • I am so tired (Score:1, Interesting)

    by apierson ( 69272 )
    of hearing Tim O'Reilly's monologues. The most annoying thing about them is how he's been verbally sex0ring amazon for the last few YEARS. Stick to running your company, Tim--there are plenty of other people in the world who can write musings about amazon if they want.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This whole social fixation on the next big thing is stupid and counter productive. About the only thing this achieves is liberates money from those stupid enough to buy in and into those lacking morals and ethics.
  • hardware hacking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foog ( 6321 ) <> on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:35AM (#5819009)
    case modding is about as much hardware hacking as putting a giant tail on your honda civic is hot rodding.

    I'll just say the current generation of microcontrollers is a dream to work with, and programmable logic is really hot right now too...

    foog (who has been up all night with an Atmel AVR, and the blinkenlights are flashing and the solenoid valves are clacking and everything's worked as designed so far, just with the usual minor hitches...)
    • I haven't been up all night with my AVRs cause I need the sleep :-) But I'm always interested when someone mentions solenoid valves. What's the project?
      • It's for a client, so I can't give details. I'm more excited about it because it's

        a) my first AVR project and
        b) my first microcontroller project in almost ten years and
        c) I'm getting paid for it

        than I am about any of the application details.

        If I'd known how straightforward assembly on these buggers is, I'd probably have skipped wrangling with C compilers.

        I probably should have made clear, to be fair above, that the article itself was pretty vague on the "hardware hacking" issue and it's apparently Tac
        • It's for a client, so I can't give details

          That's cool. I pretty much dropped all interest in the Motorola MCUs that I used before once I started with the Atmel ones. They are amazing little processors.

          I agree with the guy who said that equating hardware hacking with case modding is like equating spoilers on a Civic with real car rebuilding.
  • HyperCard-OS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:39AM (#5819023) Homepage
    I'm still hoping someone will re-think HyperCard as an Internet-optimised operating system, with integrated scriptable modules for creating and viewing webpages, images, email, multimedia, etc.

    If it runs as slick as HyperCard, it should become the new basic minimum of computer-literacy, so a creative community would inevitably grow up around it.

    Build it on top of Linux and offer it for Internet Appliances, and it could put Microsoft out of business. But wireless and web-services and multiplayer gaming don't seem central to me, at all.
  • I say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by djupedal ( 584558 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @10:56AM (#5819100)
    ...the next true killer app is one I've been waiting for, for some time now.


    • Yes!

      Micro-payments, if-and-when they become widely acceptable, will make so many things possible it boggles the mind. The internet is sitting about where the brick-and-mortar (or at the time, cloth-and-tentpole) economy sat before the invention of money: when all trade is barter, many mutually advantageous transactions don't occur because the overhead cost is too high. If all you have to pay with are goats, and you want to buy something worth a milli-goat, what to you do?

      Online creditcard payments are

      • At the risk of posting a me-too... this is exactly right.

        For writers, micropayments can't come soon enough. I have dozens of stories that were published in paper over the years that I'd love to sell reads to online. But I wouldn't pay more than a few pennies to read short stories online, and I expect most people feel the same. Anyway, when micropayments become a widespread functional reality, there's going to be a new renaissance in literature, or at least in the ability of writers to earn income from

    • Well, I'm not sure we will ever see them. It seems most businesses who have anything to do with the internet are busy. Patent fraud. Finding new ways to abuse copyright infringement claims. Sueing everyone.

      Don't forget the internet mail order companies--they want to be able to charge you retail, and insane shipping & handling rates. If everyone could buy books, pictures, short video clips for 25 cents, then there would be less purchases of those $30 hardback books, $20 videos, and $10 pictures (togeth

    • Micropayments is one of those technologies, like rocket backpacks, that techno-nerds keep promoting but which never show up, and for the same reason. They're not practical.

      The Teledon project back in the 1970s used micro-payments, and failed. Project Xanadu was going to be financed by micropayments and failed. Nicholas Negroponte predicted that micropayments would finance the WWW. First Virtual founded an internet bank based on micropayments and went bankrupt.

      The problem is that the cost of administering
      • Yep, micropayments are not practical at all.
        It's pretty simple to work this out. Ask yourself how much is your phone bill? Let's say you only pay twenty bucks a month. Well, what exactly are you paying for here? Most people don't want to believe that they are paying for the billing infrastructure itself, but then you have to ask yourself exactly what does the billing infrastructure include? You can argue till dawn about the details, but I think a very reasonable argument can be made that more than half
    • PayPal is about the closest thing to micro-payments I've seen.

      I've noticed quite a few sites out there using it for transactions in the $1-$10 range. It seems like a good payment mechanism if you just need to charge a small subscription fee or want to charge for some documents.
  • my pick (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <oliverthered@h[ ] ['otm' in gap]> on Sunday April 27, 2003 @11:12AM (#5819164) Journal
    Broadband + VOIP that can connect to other phone networks.

    In car entertainment, based on a PC with 802.11b (download from the house) that plays mp3's with something like GDAM [] for real time, hands free mixing.

    Better Gnutella/Kazaa that allows things like downloading from people with only part of the file.

    And finially, a fully modular UI. so that when I install libjpeg and libogg on my PC, anything that can provide a bitmap makes use of libjpeg and anything that can provide a RIFF file makes use of ogg.

    • What value does broadband + VoIP deliver that the current phone network doesn't?
      • You can ditch your phone and only have digital into the house. It intergrates fully into your PC, giving you one hell-almighty answer phone.

        You could even text to speech / speech to text. Have an email sent to you when someone calls or whatever.

        The improvements are intergration with other communications networks, massive low cost feature enhancement and very friendly to people with disabilities.
  • by rf0 ( 159958 )
    I guess if Amazon do get the next big thing then they will just patent it to lock it into themselves. You've got to love the American Patent System, not sure if they are any better ones though

  • I don't know what the killer app is going to be, but the next consumer killer app is going to involve the fact that we are reaching critical density on the number of homes that have permanent, fast internet connections. This definitely changes the way people deal with, and perceive the network, and should enable some new services that were unthinkable with dial-up. And it won't just be networked gaming...
  • going to become more mainstream in my opinion. Some of those cases at the hardware hacker website looked nice. Heck, if Harry Potter had a PC, it would look like this [].

    Just my PC-with-a-magical-core's-worth.
  • by Arch_dude ( 666557 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @12:11PM (#5819467)
    There has been a noticable increase in broadband usage in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Toronto, as quarantined or frightened tech workers stay at home and telecommute. SARS, the next killer app.
  • A rundown (Score:1, Informative)

    Presumably, most people here have a fair familiarity with the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) phenomenon, but here's a rundown of the major products out there from my bookmarks, for anyone who's interested but not wholly informed. Feel free to correct any of this if my understanding of any of these games is in any way flawed:

    Anarchy Online []
    Asheron's Call []
    Dark Age of Camelot []
    Everquest []
    Shadowbane [] (just released - very buggy)
    A Tale in the Desert []
    Ultima Online []

    Horizons []
    Eve Onl []
  • by tadghin ( 2229 ) on Sunday April 27, 2003 @12:41PM (#5819625) Homepage
    Just to be clear, this report on my "O'Reilly Radar" talk at the Emerging Technologies Conference [] really missed the point.

    I didn't say that Amazon web services, BARWN, Xbox hardware hacking, or MMORPGs were "the next killer app." What I said was that all these things were on my radar, and why. My point was not to pick the most important things out there, but to pick four things that people might not view in the same context, and to identify the common element that put them on my radar: They represent the hacker impulse, people pushing the boundaries of a system and coming up with innovations that the original creators didn't imagine. I outlined some of the key elements that put technologies on my radar: hackability, being in line with some major trend (such as the increase in ubiquitous networking), disruptive potential, grassroots enthusiasm rather than top-down corporate promotion but still the presence of professional practitioners and a possible business ecology.

    There are many other technologies that are also on my radar. I chose these four to highlight precisely because they seem so disjoint, yet to me show all of the characteristics that I outlined above, the characteristics that make a technology worth following by O'Reilly.

  • brilliant

    (1) web services
    No kidding? A publisher giving kudos to one of his largest outlets? What a suprise.

    (2) BARWN
    Wireless. The NEXT big thing? I thought this was the LAST big thing?

    (3) Hardware hackers
    Interesting. And what a pisser this will be.

    (4) online gaming communities
    Seriously, has this guy been awake for the last 2 years?
  • I'd like to see a way of cleaning up and populating my reading list using the Amazon API, so I've written a small python script that works in straightforward cases -- no heuristics for correcting mistaken titles or author names and such. fun with xml and booklists []

  • (article doesn't seem to mention any)

    my guess list...

    mp3/file sharing?





    bulletin boards?











    ballistic modelling?


    --TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?-- TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR?--TRR!

  • DVD Jones []

    Personally I love their web services, easy to use, plenty of information. They have some areas to improve such as switching out ASINs, not including an 'image not found' image, but overall I'm very pleased.
    • If you login as demo, you see this:

      You have lent out
      12 Angry Men
      11 days ago to Robert Jones
      100 Girls
      9 days ago to Robert Jones

      He can keep the angry men, but I wouldn't mind if he hurried up with the 100 girls!
  • that the technologies mentioned above WON'T be the next killer app! Predicting such thing is like lotteries: virtually nobody guesses them right; and none of the people you know personally win.
  • Some work has gone into AI-based investing, and it is fascinating to think about computers picking stocks. A little scary too, but if analysis of securities is a viable means to make money in the market (it's arguable), a computer should be able to process all the information and make timely picks far better than any bloodskull.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.