As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, Pokémon Go – the new Augmented Reality app created by Niantic – has been taking over our world through smartphones. A few of us here at Farnam have tried it out and we have been discussing the effects it is having on businesses and industries around the world.
First of all, companies that make portable phone batteries are likely to benefit, as are those that retail them. To play Pokémon Go properly, players need to walk around their local area with the app open while the phone traces them on the map with GPS.
The problem is that this uses up the phone battery incredibly fast. Many people are scrambling to buy a portable phone charger so they can spend longer searching for Pokémon. Portable batteries have been in the top trending searches on ebay since the game was released, and Zagg Inc. (NAS:ZAGG) – owner of the Mophie brand, which has an 80% market share of battery phone cases in the US, has surged 24% since the game was released on July 6.
Constantly using GPS also uses a lot of mobile data. There is a chance many people will upgrade their phone plans or upgrade their data package so they can explore as much as they want without worrying about breaching their data cap. Alternatively they may also just run up a bigger bill.
It may not be such a direct and immediate link, but in the long run data-heavy apps like Pokémon Go will encourage people to use more data on their phones and will likely choose plans with higher data caps in the future. This may bode well for the telcos such as Telstra (ASX:TLS), Optus, and TPG (ASX:TPM).
One of the most interesting and unique characteristics of the app is how the in-game map and the real world interact. For example, there are points on the game map called Pokéstops, where players can pick up free in-game items to help them catch more Pokémon.
These points are all linked to real world locations like shops, cafés, murals, and landmarks. Many cafes have reported a surge in business after finding out that their building is a popular Pokéstop, and many businesses have seized the opportunity and organised Pokémon Go themed events and bought in-game items to bring more Pokémon (and hence customers) to their store. In Farnam’s home of Newcastle, two organised walks were even held over the weekend which brought in hundreds of wannabe Pokémon Masters.
It got me thinking – does that make our house more valuable? Probably not to the average person, or anyone who doesn’t play the game. But I wonder if any fans of the game (especially lazy fans) would be more inclined to buy a house if it was within range of a Pokéstop? A number of real estate listings have already popped up referencing proximity to Pokéstops.When I first tried the game, I discovered that my next door neighbour was a Pokéstop. This is a big advantage because every 10 or so minutes I can grab some free items right from my lounge room without having to go walking through the neighbourhood.
I find it pretty fascinating that the release of a single app can potentially have an effect in so many and so varied industries – from battery manufacturers and cafés to telcos and (maybe) houses. Who knows what effects the apps of the future will have on our investment portfolios!