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Top 5 killer apps never released

Posted 9 years ago in Tech by Rod Drury
Posted by Rod Drury

There are so many opportunities in technology. Small ones and really big ones. Some of the big opportunities are so obvious it’s stuns me that no one has done them, or that the natural vendor hasn’t been challenged to fill in the gap.

Here are my top 5 killer applications that have never been released.1. Exchange Relational

It always seemed nuts to me that Exchange wasn’t delivered over their SQL database engine. Enterprise email has always just been a collection of mail boxes and doesn’t allow you to ask the basic enterprise questions:

“Who is dealing with that customer?” and  “What have we said to …?”

Over 70% of your customer data is locked in your email system and you just can’t get it.

Microsoft has announced Exchange over SQL several times but never delivered. Even back in 2004:

the Microsoft SQL Server-based data store, will probably be postponed until the next major Exchange Server version, now due in the 2006 to 2007 time frame

Should have been released: 2000

2. Word multi-user

When writing a document, that document is hot for a few hours or days, then it never changes. Since the beginning of email attachments we’ve sent around documents for editing in series. Routing documents has probably been the single biggest single killer of enterprise productivity ever.

With all the power of an installed application, and the tiny amounts of data required to transport the stream of a person typing, Word should have been multi-user from Office 2003.

Google Docs, the worlds most awful word processor to use, is being heavily used simply because it is (just) multi-user. Collaboration is the killer feature for word processors.

Word MU could be the single application that would make Enterprises upgrade. Instead Microsoft have gone down the crazy path of building the worlds fattest web application that may be delivered as Office 10. Writing documents in a web browser is awful. It’s still not clear to me if Office 2010 will provide seamless multi-user editing – so far Word MU was the killer application Microsoft never did.

Should have been released: 2003

3. Excel multi-user

As above. Imagine how much easier planning would be if you could all work on the same set of spreadsheets at the same time. Maybe Anaplan will be that.

Should have been released: 2003

4. iTunes/iPhoto server.

Apple doesn’t get away either. iTunes and iPhoto just do not work for a family.

iTunes/iPhoto Server, your time has come

Should have been released: 2008 (after the MacMini and TimeCapsule)

5. iPhone with a keyboard or a UX designed blackberry

I’ve lumped these two together because I’d take either/or.

  • Email on a BlackBerry works great. Fast and easy. The rest sucks.
  • The apps on the iPhone are great. Sending an email through a glass keyboard sucks.

iPhone bold-ui-menu

Blackberry is one user interface designer from being perfect. When you see the first menu of an iPhone you get the main apps almost every business person needs after email/contacts/calendar. They are Weather, World Time and Stocks. It astounds me that RIM don’t provide those 3 simple apps like Apple has. The front menu of a BlackBerry is a disaster. Don’t they talk to users?

Should have been released: iPhone with a keyboard 2009, UX designed Blackberry 2007

So that’s my list. What have I missed?


Guy Haddleton
November 1, 2009 at 6.57 am

Google docs has achieved a task many thought impossible – proving that the MS Office franchise is vulnerable.

Routing docs (including Excel files) may well have been the biggest killer of business (not just enterprise) productivity and Google has shown remarkable leadership in resolving this issue. But a close second is the amount of time, small and large businesses waste building, deploying and maintaining Excel apps.

The spreadsheet is an excellent personal productivity tool, but was never designed to be the defacto application development environment that it has subsequently evolved to.

Take revenue modeling for example – a $10m dollar business can have the same revenue complexity as a $100m business (for example, optimizing margin for sales reps, by product by week by margin by key customers) – but how the heck do you build & MAINTAIN this simple multi-dimensional app in a spreadsheet – with great difficulty. Likewise with financial statements – one might have thought that the Microsoft pensioners would have worked out over 25 years how to bake these simple, generic concepts into EXCEL.

We are thrilled with Google’s validation of the online spreadsheet market – but Google (along with Excel) doesn’t solve the issues of multi-dimensionality, data volumes, data acquisition and general business processes (version mgt, FX, workflow, allocations etc). Enter Anaplan and the start of our Beta – we are also thrilled that one of our first Beta Customers is a (UK) Xero customer who has moderately complex revenue planning and forecasting needs.

Guy Haddleton,

Dermott Renner
November 2, 2009 at 1.23 pm

I understand that Word 2010 offers collaboration; could be wrong but I thought they demonstrated this in New Orleans in July. Don’t know about Excel.

As someone who just converted from BB to iPhone (did I just say that loud!) I think BB is better for emails if travelling on the London Underground and holding device with one hand. iPhone is really a 2 handed device but you get used to how it works. My biggest complaint with iPhone is that it is a slippery sucker.

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