17-year-old launches bestselling app Summly

Nick D'Aloisio hails from London and just turned 17 yesterday. The teenager took a year off school to develop Summly, an iOS app that summarizes news stories using an algorithm. The app shot to the ninth slot in the App Store within two hours of being released, and has received over $1,000,000 in funding.

It all started when D'Aloisio was 15 and doing homework. Frustrated with the tedious task of clicking through search results in search of his goal, he developed the idea for the app Trimit, which summarizes articles into tweets. Trimit ended up catching the eye of billionaire Li Ka Shing, who shelled out $300k for the app to be turned into what ended up being Summly.

Summly summarizes news articles for smartphones, making it easy to browse through items and get the gist of it all. Said D'Aloisio, "What we believed is news on the iPhone-sized screen is currently broken. So people are just skim-reading the headlines and no one is actually standing in line or on the phone and going, 'I want to read this whole story,' scrolling through a 1,500-word article."

D'Aloisio says that the original version of Summly was "more of a demo," but that Summly 2.0 is a mass market app. The app adjusts the summary it gives to the iPhone's screen size; those with older iPhones receive smaller summaries than those with new, larger models. Although the summaries are generated by algorithms, they have a natural kind of flow to them.

For now, the app is free, although talk of micropayments or small fees have surfaced. News Corp. has already jumped on board, making a deal to have the Wall Street Journal, Times of London, and The Australian featured in Summly. The app's contents are pulled from dozens of publishers.

And what of his age? Says D'Aloisio on the subject to The Huffington Post: "I just think it's irrelevant. I don't understand. The only way I see my age coming into this is that I've built this for my age, my demographic." The new Summly app was launched on his birthday.

[via Huffington Post]