x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Apps need support

The knowledge economy is the way of the future, but innovation is being stifled by old regulations

 Mobile app designers need to be encouraged. Silvia Izquierdo/ AP
Mobile app designers need to be encouraged. Silvia Izquierdo/ AP

Everybody, it seems, is obsessed with apps. The abbreviation for application barely existed a few years ago, but now it’s approaching ubiquity. What was once part of the “new economy” is now mainstream – as evidenced by such initiatives as the Arab Mobile App Challenge, which has a $25,000 (Dh92,000) prize up for grabs to an innovative programmer.

As former PayPal chief operating officer David Sacks has noted, the problem for individual coders is that the chances of finding a good idea that hasn’t already been grasped by the Silicon Valley giants are remote. ­Exactly how many truly disruptive apps are left to be designed?

And some of developers who have come up with groundbreaking ideas are being hampered by knee-jerk reactions from various authorities. Uber Technologies, the app-based cab-hailing network, has been banned in some cities and now faces pressure in India, where the central bank has insisted it add a layer of credit-card authentification.

New ideas need nurturing before they can fly, yet in many jurisdictions, legislators and bureaucrats are grounding them by applying regulations designed in and for another era. Except where something is clearly intended for nefarious purposes, the authorities should not be regulating against innovation, they should be embracing it.