Harvard Medical School recently released an iPhone application designed to educate its users about the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Here's the description from iTunes:
The Swine Flu Application includes videos, animations and text that allow you to learn the basics about swine flu, how to reduce the risk to you and your family, and how to prepare your business for the pandemic.
The most compelling thing about the app, however, is that it has a mapping feature that shows users users the state of the epidemic in their current location or in other locaitons. Neat.
This is an interesting idea -- there are other H1N1 trackers, but none are from an institution of Harvard's caliber. Academic medical centers should certainly be getting these kinds of applications into the hands of users, but I find Harvard's decision to charge for the application a little off putting (yes, yes, I know it's only $1.99).
When there are significant public health events such as the H1N1 pandemic, I really think these kinds of tools should be offered free as a public service. It seems out of character for Harvard.
What do you think about the fee? Should an app like this be free or is Harvard justified in monetizing its development efforts?