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Brit 'IT' kid revamps app with Hollywood help

Thursday, 01 Nov, 2012 - 02:33

Sixteen-year-old London-based entrepreneur Nick D'Aloisio is relaunching his mobile summarization app Summly, which aims to build a new model for consuming news content on the go. Reuters Technology Correspondent Matt Cowan reports.

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He's young, uncommonly bright and thinks his app can outdo Google when it comes to mobile news discovery. That in a nutshell is the story of Nick D'Aloisio, the 16-year-old British founder of Summly which is being relaunched with a new look, new functionality and new backers. {SOUNDBITE: Nick D'Aloisio, Summly Founder saying (English)} "We're now the best mobile solution for news. I think fundamentally news on mobile is broken. People are either skimreading tweeted headlines which just don't give you enough detail. Noone's sitting there reading long article after long article after long article line by line." D'Aloisio first made a name for himself last year after winning investment from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka Shing, who'd also backed Facebook and Spotify. Like the previous iteration, the new Summly uses technology to summarize written information but this version focuses exclusively on news. [FROM PROMO VIDEO] SOUNDBITE: Nick D'Aloisio, Summly Founder saying (English) "You tell it your interests and it shows you summarized content. But instead of just a headline, Summly gives you 400 characters. That's more than a tweet but less than the full article" SOUNDBITE: Nick D'Aloisio, Summly Founder saying (English) "And the idea is you can come into Summly 3, 4, 5 times per day to get your bite-size, snack-sized bit of information. You can follow any topic in the world. It comes up as a green tile or you can get the standard pre-defined news categories like Tech, Lifestyle, Sport, Entertainment, but summarized." A new batch of angel investors is also being announced and it reads like a who's who of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and London's own tech scene. They include actor Ashton Kutcher, Facebook VP Joanna Shields, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, actor Stephen Fry and Artist Yoko Ono. Summly also recently added Bart Swanson as Chairman. Previously, he helped to manage the rollout of Amazon in Europe. SOUNDBITE: Bart Swanson, Summly Chairman, saying (English) "The ideal goal is to be one of the leading apps inside of the news category worldwide. We're initially launching in English. The summarization technology works in nearly all languages so we will be deploying in most other Latin languages by the end of the year and hopefully in most Asian languages in early Q1." The app is free and Swanson freely admits there's currently no revenue model built in. SOUNDBITE: Bart Swanson, Summly Chairman, saying (English) "But if we achieve what we want in terms of users and engagement, there's plenty of opportunity for revenue." D'Aloisio hopes to eventually make money through micropayments and says media companies have been largely receptive. SOUNDBITE: Nick D'Aloisio, Summly Founder saying (English) "For example we're working with News Corp. We have the Wall Street Journal on the app. In fact some of these pay walled services have really liked the idea of these summaries because it gives a whole new medium to monetize." He's taken the autumn off school, but eventually says he'd like to complete his education. But for the moment, he wants to make the most of this small screen opportunity.

Brit 'IT' kid revamps app with Hollywood help

Thursday, 01 Nov, 2012 - 02:33