Looking for the killer app for Solid

During the years Tim created the web, John Warnock invented Acrobat and for a long time he had no idea on how to sell it. Adobe was spending 50 millions each year to promote the new technology, but at the end two killer apps made the PDF fly. In the US the IRS decided to accept PDFs and in Europe we convinced several software manufacturers to replace their printed manuals with PDfs on CDs. That made the trick.

When I look at the Solid technology, I feel that everything will depend on finding the killer app. At the moment the main focus seems to be on adding as many cool features as possible - waiting for the developers to create something great.

Several - less technical members of this group should focus on brainstorming to find the possible killer app.

What are the areas, which could profit from user controlled access and data repositories?

personal health, smart home, personal media, personal finance, car data, smartphone gps, genealogy, knowledge taxonomies, personal search history, …


So far there is an ‘ideas for solid apps’ category here on the forum.

The economics are challenging because the apps won’t own the data.

Personally, my feeling is that this economic challenge won’t be overcome, but will only be circumvented by a socialist approach to development for Solid, either by volunteers or by government effort.
People need to get together to do it.

-edit 2-
I could be wrong though. There are companies that are trying it, although I think mainly they’re doing that because of government initiatives like GDPR.

1 Like

If the business model of a solution cannot be based on data - we have to find areas, where data cannot change ownership: personal banking information, health imaging, medical records, medication history, 24/7 personal locations, car usage infos, smart home usage data, etc.

1 Like

Yes, thats the idea but what it means is that a company has to find an incentive to create, extend and enhance a data set that not only does it not keep, but it can be locked out of at any time and in addition the data can possibly be used by another company in unknown and uncontrollable ways. They have to share that data, even if they created it or invested in it. The owner of the data, often the user of the app but not necessarily, can restrict access to one or more companies but the companies can’t control that, only the owner. I’m using the word company but agent is probably more accurate.

So its not as though one company owns the data and that ownership cannot be changed, but in fact the owner, usually a person but not always, owns the data and companies cannot have expectations of ownership or immutability or privacy (to the company) or even access.

Maybe apps should be rented with micro currency. Basic ones might be built by volunteers. Some like for accessing basic health data might be provided by governments. Deluxe or fancy ones might be rented.

There will also be a graphical user interface driven operating system for Solid pods, which I think is a work in progress, that will have a lot of widgets for standard things like contact lists and calendars, and other widgets could be built with those.

So maybe a killer app would be an app that lets a pod owner choose and rent apps.

1 Like

Solid could be the base for cooperative ownership of data instead of the winner takes all model. This article https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000119724316/mit-informatikpionier-wir-brauchen-datengewerkschaften pointed me to that book:

Building the New Economy
Edited by Alex Pentland, Alexander Lipton, and Thomas Hardjono

1 Like

Very interesting. I will dive into it. Thank you.
As long as Solid technology deeply threatens the business model of the big five tech giants, new killer apps will have great problems. Nevertheless, data privacy is gradually coming on the collective radar even though nobody really knows what to do about it. Data privacy unions will probably start only once the big five will use our personal data against us. So far they are only starting to control advertising, US politics, news, entertainment, media and more.

I would expect some interesting possibilities in the the area of match-making. On both the supply and the demand side only non personal identifiable data would be published initially and once some potential match is to be looked at closer more data would be exposed progressively.

1 Like

Yes! I’ve been working toward precisely this for the last year or so at itme (https://itme.company/) - we’re hoping to launch our first POD hosting cooperative this Spring - please get in touch if you’d be interested in being an early member-owner!


Interesting. I followed you on Twitter. Not sure what a member-owner would be.

Great! Here’s a pretty good primer on coop member-ownership: https://cooperatives.extension.org/duties-of-members-owners/

The idea is that “members” of your coop are ideally also owners with various rights and responsibilities related to the governance of the organization. Our goal is to like to make the responsibilities of ownership within our coop flexible enough to meet our member-owners where they’re at in terms of technical ability and bandwidth to participate in the governance of the POD host.

I think you should start by explaining what you offer. Why would I need this coop? What benefit does it do that I can not get elsewhere?

1 Like

@mthorner what’s your interest in Solid?

A Killer App ?

1 Like

Just wondering how much $ ?

@tag42git How much are you ready to invest monthly to help me building the team to maintain ?
Do you think we could find 1000 people giving 10$ ?

I meant how much would people need to pay to Airtable, if any, for a subscription to use Airtable with Solid. The link is to Airtable’s pricing page.

Are you talking about raising a team of developers to reproduce something similar? Wikipedia says that in September 2020 they raised $185 million in funding. I don’t know…but I think that would be hard to compete with.

If you can break things down into small areas or units or components or whatever that one developer could make in their spare time, by themselves, and it could plug right in and be useful, then possibly an ecosystem could bloom without a big capital investment. That I think is a key thing. SolidOS developers are trying to do that and I think they are making progress, but I don’t think they are there yet.

This really looks very nice. People could easily build their own small applications with it and control all data on their pod. To make this idea fly you certainly need a lot more resources and many template-applications like Airtables has. While you demo the data input side, I wonder how the data sharing side might look like. Assume you have a personal contacts base you
you want to share selectively with your spouse, kids, friends or coworkers. I dont know if Airtables solved the data sharing part, which is the main selling point of Solid technology.

I just migrated my post here, not to polute this thread Ess Table, Airtable app on Solid

I’ve enjoyed reading the ideas in this thread. This is something I’ve thought about for a while and I think there are two things that need to occur to make Solid successful:

  1. A pod needs to be as easy to install and run as WordPress. As in, most hosting providers support it and someone with a little bit of technical knowledge can do it.
  2. The killer app will likely have its roots in social media and will provide the best user experience. Like with Tesla, it will have to provide an experience that’s better than what existed before it to be compelling enough to get people to abandon Facebook or Twitter. People en masse won’t switch to Solid-anything simply because of privacy or control of their data. It has to be better than what exists today.

I think item 1 has to occur before item 2 can happen.