Lifestyle‎ > ‎

UK teen's app creates stir

posted 27 Jan 2012, 08:16 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Jan 2012, 08:17 ]

London student Nick D'Aloisio is thrust into the global spotlight after his iPhone app wins the backing of a Hong Kong billionaire.

UK teen's app becomes global sensation.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (RECENT) (REUTERS) - It's a school day and sixteen-year-old student Nick D'Aloisio is at the library. But he's not studying. He's here to take part in a panel on the future of search and discuss his new iPhone app called Summly.

"So we're currently an iPhone application. We've had great success. We've had over a hundred thousand downloads since our launch early December. We were Apple's App of the Week last week in some European countries. We've obviously had some good press and positive reviews from our users," D'Aloisio tells the audience.

This event, by the way, is taking place at the British Library - an institution with the ambitious mission of advancing the world's knowledge.

It's an extraordinary situation for someone of D'Aloisio's young age to be looked to as an expert in a building that houses some of the world's greatest literary treasures, but if you can believe it this is actually one of the less eventful days he's experienced in recent memory.

He's just come back from a trip to Silicon Valley where he enjoyed high-level meetings with academics and entrepreneurs.

Frank Meehan works for Horizons Ventures, the investment company controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing which last year invested 250,000 dollars in D'Aloisio's technology.

"Nick started coding when he was 11. By the time when he was 14 he'd already had 3 applications out there which had done pretty well on the app store. And then the fact that he then took some of the earnings out of that and started to go further and started to hire people to work on theorems he'd been working on - that's pretty unusual. It's that kind of drive you see from the Zuckerberg's and the like," says Meehan, referring to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who started the social network in his Harvard dorm.

So just what is Summly? D'Aloisio, succinctly summarizes. "So Summly allows you to browse the web in a concise and effective manner by providing succinct summaries of search results, articles or web pages," he explains.

Summly has not only won Apple's coveted App of the Week honours, it's also attracted attention from major tech firms in Silicon Valley - though D'Aloisio won't say who he met.

"I can't. We're under NDA so I'd be breaking the law," he laughs. "Equally I just wanted to go out and get some advice from entrepreneurs, from founders, from CEOs of other iPhone app companies, and other companies in general because obviously I'm extremely young and the more experience I can have in the Valley the better."

D'Aloisio says he plans for to continue his education, while building a business that ultimately aims to change the way people view the web.

"Summarization is a space that hasn't been explored yet at all and so we're in a new era, or new space," he states. "The technology is in its early days but already extremely effective."

The same might be said for the technology's author.