Build a Killer Web App in 45 Minutes…Then What?

February 12th, 2008 by - 6,149 views

techcrunch_logo Today I read an article on TechCrunch which was positioned as a poll eliciting responses on a generalized area of development. The framework, as outlined by Erick Schonfeld, was this: “come up with a killer Web app in 45 minutes” for the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami. I guess the goal is to actually build the app within the timeframe specified. The categories for the poll were:

  • A Webwide Reputation System
  • Cloud Computing
  • Social Finance
  • Webmail – An Alternative to Gmail
  • Search
  • Life Streaming
  • Video Messaging/Publishing

Below are the stats taken @ 2:10pm on 2/12/08 from the TechCrunch site.


The thing that really grabbed me about this TechCrunch poll was not what was in the original post, but the 50+ comments that followed, many with several other ideas on the “killer app.” In fact, yours truly tried to jump into the comment thread as well. I figured that I should keep my comments short, but still the topic and inferred topics kept me thinking and spawned some other ones in the process.

Many other ideas

The fact that so many readers had so many ideas leads me to believe that this is truly a loaded topic. (Well, isn’t that what web development is all about and why we have so many new services springing up?) Regardless, here are some of the other “killer apps” that caught my attention and deserve a bit more press:

  • Real-time video conferencing
  • Online web-app creator (multiple comments about this)
  • App that creates Apps
  • Time-Waste monitor that pulls in all social network tools and finds out how much time you are distracted using social networking tools (I really DON’T need to know that)
  • Workflow Application
  • News personalization, localization and syndication
  • Mini-apps to “make your offline lives easier”
  • Video equivalent of RSS widget
  • Single ID system

I obviously didn’t include some of the tongue-in-cheek ideas but the ones above have some viability, in my opinion. The one that caught my eye, though, was that of “Cloud Computing” since I had recently posted some thoughts on that topic as well. But part of my comment to Erick was to get some clarification around that. Was it related to integrations with other “cloud” or “virtualized” hosting solutions? That is what I asked.

Erick’s response:

“It is open ended, but I was thinking more along the lines of what’s the next step after S3/EC2/etc. We have Web-based computation, storage, querying, and databases. What’s next. Could be built on top of Amazon or standalone.”

My Answer to “…What’s Next?”

My brain churned on this idea and then fractured in a couple of directions.

First, hooking in and/or building on top of clustered, cloud or virtualized computing definitely makes sense to me. That is part of the reason why GoGrid was developed, to provide rapidly scalable alternatives to standardized hosting to host these apps. As I have said before, integration will be key, not only to Web 3.0, but also to the success of these mini-apps, mashups, and new companies developing these products and services in general. I was encouraged to see that “Cloud Computing” was receiving a large number of votes.

The other direction my thoughts took was trying to figure what to do with these “killer apps” once they had been developed. Developing the application in 45 minutes is definitely an achievement in itself. Getting them “out to market” in an hour, is record-worthy!

I would almost extend this challenge to just that: build and deploy a killer app in an hour. The details: build the app in 45 minutes and then get it on the Internet in the remaining 15. GoGrid could do the later part of the challenge without “breaking a sweat.” As a side note, I have been able to deploy 2 servers (1 web/application server and 1 database server) in under 10 minutes combined, from server creation to RDC-ing/SSH-ing in to those servers, without any human intervention (e.g., a sysadmin) aside from my own.

My comment on the TechCrunch article of “build it and they will come” stills stands. Yes, you can build in 45 minutes, but NO, they won’t come if you don’t have a place to put it easily and quickly.

2008 will be all about getting your product developed AND out to market ahead of your competitors. Has that every really changed? Just the tools to do so have. Just be sure that when you hit that final stretch, you have planned on a sprint and your customers have a place to go to watch you finish.

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Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan, formerly the Technology Evangelist for GoGrid, is a recognized technology, social media, and cloud computing pundit and blogger who writes regularly about technology news and trends.

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