While not directly related to Convergence Technology, it’s worth noting that there is something unique happening in the world of apps and social media. You may have noticed something called Pokemon Go and it’s taking over the web by storm. Released less than two weeks ago, it already has close to 10 million users. And in less than a week, it managed to send Nintendo’s stock through the roof, adding $7.5 billion to the company’s market value (and counting). And it hasn’t even been released worldwide yet – currently, it’s only available in the U.S. and select countries around the world.
Most people can hardly get on any social media platform of Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram without seeing some mention or meme of the new app. But that’s not what makes this app so unique, it’s what it’s doing to the technology community and for its users.
In the past, technology has stereo-typically been an anti-social medium because users are “connected” online and in general have users sitting around indoors. Pokemon Go is changing things. Like when the Wii was released, playing involves getting up and moving around but more than that, it’s doing something most videogames have never done: it’s getting people to actually go outside and be social. It’s basically the first time a digital and virtual medium has cross-over into real-life communities with real measurable success.
This has even caused an unexpected stride in actually helping people with mental health, social anxiety or even agoraphobia. Countless others have recounted stories of talking to strangers who said it was the first time they’ve left their home in days, weeks, months, etc.
In addition to going outside and being social, it encourages exercise, something else most videogames and mobile apps have never before achieved. The more active you are in the game, the more likely you are to get something rare. The rarest being available only after a 10 km or 6 mile walk. Fitness apps have already begun jumping in by having challenges that involve the game.
In terms of usage, daily uses of the app are beating out Twitter and Netflix and the average user plays the game for about 43 minutes per day which is more than the average time spent on Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat, according to SimilarWeb. If the trend continues daily, then women could burn an average of 1,500 calories per week, 1,800 average for men.
And it seems the game is not limited to a phone as the rest of the world has taken notice. In addition to the references on social media accounting for more mentions than current events that were happening just weeks before i.e. “Brexit” and the Euro football championships, businesses are already using the game as a free marketing tool.
Bakeries are releasing themed treats, coffee shops and restaurants offer discounts to particular teams, animal shelters offering dogs to walk with while playing, even large corporations are jumping on the bandwagon. It’s hard to ignore.
So what does all this mean? Is it the first of a wave of social apps that will create more jobs in technology either in the development of new apps or the creation of more powerful phones that can handle the increased data usage? Only a start to something bigger we can’t yet predict? Or is it just a phase that will eventually die down? Only time will tell.