Think back to the last time you downloaded an app.
Did you just click on the icon and hope for the best, or did you check out the developer's credentials?
Ah, I thought not.
You see, downloading an app is just so easy. All it takes is a quick point-and-click and, within a few seconds, you're up and running. But in our quest for convenience and instant gratification, have we inadvertently created a culture where we throw caution to the wind as to which apps we trust?
Meet 17-year-old British high school student Nick D'Aloisio, the Justin Bieber of iPhone app development. Nick sold his iPhone app Summly in 2013, which he started when he was 15, to Yahoo for $30 million. His app uses an algorithm to automatically create 400-character summaries of news articles and delivers them directly to your phone.
Or take one of the most successful apps of all time, the Pulse News reader which was created in May 2010 by two Stanford grad students who subsequently sold the app and dropped out of school.
There are certainly other high-profile entrepreneurial success stories out there. Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion instantly created fantastic wealth for many of its 55 employees - and this type of story may well act as a powerful magnet for tech-savvy high school students who dream of retiring rich before they reach drinking age.
If you're a regular user of the app stores, you'll have noted a significant rise in the number of apps which dig into our personal profiles from Facebook, Twitter...etc to ensure the news feeds from Summly or Pulse News are tailored to our exact tastes and interests. If the truth be known, I've become so blasé about it that I don't give a second thought about clicking on the "allow access" button in my haste to start using the app!
And, if you follow the #digitalhealth or #healthtech world, it can't have escaped your attention that we are surrounded by apps which measure and monitor every aspect of our physical activity or biometric makeup. The next natural step is, as AI and machine learning takes a hold, for these apps to handle the interpretation of the data and offer advice themselves, possibly without reference to a professionally-qualified medical specialist. This opens the door to consumers taking on responsibility for their personal healthcare decisions which would have previously been undertaken by a qualified medical professional.
Taking it one stage further, can you imagine a world where your app helps you understand your scan or even makes a provisional diagnosis independent to your medical professional?
So, here's the question:
If we continue to download and use apps without an understanding the qualifications or credibility of the creator, I wonder how long it will be before we discover we are more reliant on a health app developed by an unqualified high school student from the confines of their bedroom than we are on our local medical professional?
Makes you think...
Alistair Wickens - CEO