Years ago, Google debuted an April's Fool joke that mixed its Google Maps features with "hidden Pokémons" a user would be able to catch while navigating through the maps.
Fast forward to 2016 and the stunning overnight success of Pokémon GO, an app developed by Niantic Labs that allows people to search for Pokémons in real life and catch them using augmented reality.
Launched on July 6 in the US as well as Australia, the app has become an overnight sensation whose imminent launch in Europe and Asia is widely anticipated. If its smash US success translates, the streets wil be filled with people searching for the little creatures from the Poke world.
According to Kantar's US mobile behavioral panel, 20% of Android users have used the Pokémon Go app sometime this month. “This is quite remarkable since the game app launched just 10 days ago”, explains David Wright, mobile innovation specialist at Kantar. The Pokémon GO app is also the 10th most-used feature on Android smartphones. “And if you consider system functions, such as launching the home screen, the Pokémon catcher app appeared only below Facebook, Google Search and people using their address book”, adds Wright.
- 20% of Android users have used the app so far in July
One of the main surprises is seeing an app from the digital world lead people into the streets of the real world. A lot of locations in the US, such as Central Park, have been crowded with people glued to their smartphones looking for Pokémons.
The motivation to get out is also doing wonders for people who suffer from issues that typically keep them indoors or isolated, such as depression, anxiety and agoraphobia. Many of them are sharing testimonials of how the Pokémon GO app gave them a purpose to leave the house and even made them enjoy doing so. Some businesses are also using the opportunity to create ad campaigns tied to Pokémon and invite people to come in, since they can probably find a new creature inside.
However, even in the few days since its huge success, Pokémon is also facing some challenges. Users are walking around carelessly, entering unsafe areas in the hopes of catching a Pokémon while ill-intentioned people use the app to spot Pokémon masters on the loose and rob them. Users still need to figure out how to engage with the app in real life without hurting themselves or others, physically or professionally.
Niantic, which developed the app, is holding its global release in hopes of fixing bugs and making its servers ready for the traffic it will receive in the coming weeks when they're expected to roll out the app for other countries, as well.
One thing is certain: Niantic, in partnership with Nintendo and Google, has found a new and revolutionary way to get people engage with apps.