The Pokémon Go Challenge

Pokémon GO
Augmented reality App has Pokémons appearing everywhere, but what to operators need to contend with
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Pokémon GO has taken America by the storm, but what does it mean for operators?

You must have heard about Pokémon GO, the app that has taken America by storm. The App has an augmented reality platform, Pokémons are appearing everywhere across America from rivers and lakes to hospital rooms, and users of the app are spending complete weekends trying to catch any new Pokémon.

As of now, the app is only (officially) available in the US, Australia, and New Zealand but in those countries, it has already caught fire. On July 8th, only 2 days after the app’s release, Pokémon Go was already installed on 5.16% of all Android devices in the US.

Pokémon GO is leading on app engagement as well; the app’s usage has been unbelievably high. Over 60% of those who have downloaded the app in the US are using it daily, meaning around 3% of the entire US Android population are users of the app. This metric, which we refer to as Daily Active Users has put Pokémon GO neck and neck with Twitter, and in a few more days, Pokémon GO will likely have more Daily Active Users than the well-established social network.

The Pokémon GO app uses mapping software to create a virtual reality game, it is getting children and adults out and about in their neighborhoods to “catch” the game characters as they pop up on phone screens from various locations.

Game may be fun, but it may have unintended consequences for operators and users

Expenses: It’s possible to play completely cost-free by winning “PokeCoins” (the app’s currency) through gameplay, but you can also purchase the coins through an in-app purchase. The longer you play, the more spending money you need to store and “train” your gathered characters. The app also requires constant GPS access, and it uses a lot of data. After playing for hours every day, consumers with limited data plans may find themselves with a hefty bill at the end of the month.

Privacy: In order to play the game, users must allow the app to access other applications, such as maps and camera. Many users sign in with a Google account, and that has caused some concerns about privacy. The Android version of the game only accesses limited data (such as the user’s email address), but the iOS version for the iPhone can access all Google data.

Niantic, the game’s maker, says no personal information has been accessed, and it is issuing a bug fix to correct the problem. Users can create an account through the app itself rather than using an email address to access the game.

Security: So far, the app is only available in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, which has given cybercriminals an opportunity to capitalize on the demand. A malware version of the game has been found online; although no known infections have been reported. Users should only download the app through official app stores, not third-party sites.

Safety: Players should use the same safety precautions while playing the game that they would in any other outdoor setting, including caution in strange locations. A Missouri police department reported robbers using a secluded “PokeStop” location to rob unsuspecting game players. Players should be cautious as pedestrians and obey all traffic laws, and drivers should be on the lookout for children who may be distracted by the game.

Battery: The app also drains phone batteries, so users should be careful not to get stranded far from home. In terms of Usage Time, Pokémon GO is taking up a ton of its user’s time. As of July 8th, the app was being used for an average of 43 minutes a day, higher than WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Messenger.

Pokemon GoInfringement: PokeStops are supposed to all be on public property (or cooperative private sites), but at least one homeowner has reported that his historic house is mistakenly a PokeStop. Players should be respectful of others’ private property. Future commercial opportunities are anticipated, where stores can offer rare or unique characters to add to the game.

This massive interest in Pokémon GO has helped Nintendo Co’s stock surge more than 20% and according to David Ingles of Bloomberg, Nintendo had their best one-day move since 1983.

With complete disregard for all the concerns, for now, Pokémon GO has an extremely high app retention rate. This is great news for the app, especially considering that users often decide within the first 3-7 days whether or not they will uninstall a particular app.

Operators, are regulated and privacy aware and at the same time this app overrides all precautions.  It will be interesting to see how operators and other OTTs will react.

—- UPDATE July 15th —-

T-Mobile is jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon: The mobile carrier announced Thursday that it will give its customers a year’s worth of free Pokemon Go data, which means that consumers will be able to play the game without having it count against their monthly data plan.

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