Two weeks ago, this column called it. The Covid Tracker app would be worth downloading, we said. Its pros would outweigh its cons.
Last Tuesday, the Irish people agreed. About 1.1m people have now downloaded it. That is an astonishing take-up rate, even if almost all of the registrations were in the first 48 hours.
It won't stop Covid-19, but it will help.
Stepping back, it is also worth acknowledging that Ireland is a special place, one where there is still a real sense of community. Whatever the technical arguments around the app, people who downloaded it believe they are helping their families and communities. That shouldn't be lost in all of the noise. This is a good place to live, even with all of our issues.
And yet, I'd like to gently raise a point. We were at the mercy of Apple and Google here. What I mean is that there is no way we could efficiently contact-trace using our phones without those two companies saying we were allowed to.
The HSE was explicit about this last week when I asked. No other technological approach, other than the one favoured by Apple and Google, would properly work.
All other attempts would either deplete battery life or have a comically high failure rate - for example, not working when the phone screen is locked.
The solution was handed to us - and other governments - by the only two companies who have any say whatsoever in the technical design. No other tech company or civil authority can really intervene. If they had not decided to proceed, we couldn't have built a working app.
In other words, a health emergency service was only deliverable to us, and other sovereign countries, if Apple and Google also thought it was a good idea.
While we understandably congratulate ourselves for the effort that has clearly gone into all of this, the duopoly is also surely food for thought.
Last week, HSE boss Paul Reid was asked whether this technology was something Ireland may need. I don't think it's a purely academic question to rely on for future responses to issues such as flu outbreaks.
"Yes," he said. "We are looking at a future model for the Irish state to have test and tracing and I see this technology being part of it."
I asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly about this lack of choice, whether he might share any concerns that Ireland might become reliant on Apple and Google for such future health services, and he acknowledged the point. But then he shrugged his shoulders, saying that the two tech giants had become unavoidable utilities.
"It's a facet of modern life," he said. "They are the technology platforms. We're largely dependent on the ESB to keep the country running, but that's OK."
Obviously one can see his point. By controlling iOS and Android, it's no big news that Apple and Google steer vast, vast swathes of daily information, culture and business.
But isn't it worth stopping to pause every now and again at just how restricted our options can sometimes be?
I realise that this isn't a perfect example of the issue I'm trying to raise.
In all fairness, the way Apple and Google have constructed this Covid Tracker app's API has been pretty exemplary. Far from being any sort of bad influence, they actually saved health authorities and governments from their own temptations to add in things like trackers and location identifiers.
Yes, that's right: it was Apple and Google which ensured proper privacy levels associated with this entire app. They did it by building in restrictions on using location tracking, among other things.
I also believe both Apple and Google did this out of a genuine sense of wanting to be involved in a positive contribution to a global problem.
We can become quite cynical about the motivations of tech companies - we journalists are especially guilty of this. But they're no different to the rest of us. Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to talk to several people involved at a senior level in both companies - as well as in the Irish app developer Nearform and officials like the HSE's acting CIO - and I have encountered nothing but a sincere wish to try to help solve a real problem.
But both scenarios can be true. It is possible that this is a really well done app, conceived and executed with the best of motivations, while still showing how hopelessly dependent we are on the exclusive domain that just two companies have on the infrastructure.
Arguing that these sorts of dominions are all around us in tech isn't quite right. Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft hold formidable leads in their respective sectors. But neither is irreplaceably baked into the infrastructure. All have alternatives. There simply is no alternative to Apple and Google when it comes to phones. They own all the highways and levy most of the taxes. Everyone else must abide or simply not participate. It's one of the most striking duopolies we have ever seen.
To be fair, there was some interaction between our own authorities and both Apple and Google on feature and technological requests with regard to this app. But, ultimately, the decision was always, is always and always will be with a handful of developers and executives in those two tech giants.
The fact that this app's infrastructure is so superior to any possible alternative (that didn't involve Apple and Google) will inevitably mean that future health service responses may now reflexively look at options from those two firms, as HSE boss Paul Reid suggested last week. Why wouldn't we? It works, it's a fast deployment and all the other options are crap.
Maybe we'll evolve into a new era of public-private partnership which suits us. But maybe there's also a structural imbalance here that we need to keep an eye on.
Sunday Indo Business