By admin - July 25th, 2016

Pokémon GO has transcended mere app-hood into a global phenomenon that is as bizarre as it is irresistible. Andrew Tolve reports.

In the news

Pokémon Go, a free app that lets users chase after imaginary monsters in augmented reality, took the world by storm. Within the first week of launch, it had the most active daily users of any mobile game in U.S. history, smashing Candy Crush's numbers from back in 2013 (data according to SurveyMonkey). By week two, it had launched in 33 additional countries, exhibited twice the retention rates of the average app on iTunes, and exceeded daily users for both Google Maps and Twitter.

That's just bananas. And it's showing no signs of slowing down. The games maker, Niantic in partnership with Nintendo, is adding new in-app purchasing offers by the day, from allowing players to capture extra Pokémons to challenging players to one-on-one duels. The game is already generating in-app revenue at historic portions, with users shelling out an average of 25 cents a day. And it's cultural cachet just keeps on growing. People the world round are talking about it, playing it, even dating by way of it. Last week Niantic launched a dating app for Pokémon GO players called PokéDates, which sells matches for $20 a date.

What's the take-away from all this? Clearly the intersection of augmented reality, smartphones and gamification has global curb appeal, but it doesn't come without its risks. Last week a man in New York drove his car into a tree while chasing after a turtle-shelled blue sea creature on his smartphone. The game has also been flagged as a security risk both for individuals (robbers are luring users away from their homes with fake Pokémons) and for enterprises due to risk of cyber security breaches and malware.

In the money

Yahoo accepted final bids for its core Internet and mobile business, and is reportedly close to finalizing a deal with Verizon for just shy of $5 billion. Verizon has been pushing hard to grow its mobile video presence and views Yahoo's video capabilities, in concert with its existing monthly user base of 1 billion people, as a potentially powerful synergy. Other bidders include AT&T, private equity firm TPG, and an investment team led by Warren Buffet.

In other news

Facebook set up a 24/7 crisis response team for Facebook Live. The team is tasked with reviewing in near real time any content that gets flagged by community members for any reason, such as violence or sexual exploitation. Facebook says that some live videos can be removed, if they are deemed to mock victims or celebrate shootings. However, videos that exist merely to document shootings or other graphic events will not be removed.

Volkswagen and LG partnered up to build the cockpit of the future for automobiles. Under development as the “Cross-Over-Platform,”the solution will allow cars to sync up with the full spectrum of the Internet of things, including all smart home devices. Imagine being able to set recordings on your TV, adjust AC or heating, and check your smart fridge to see if you're running low on milk or eggs — all from the dash of your car. That's the vision VW and LG are chasing.

Microsoft wants to make its Surface tablets and laptops more appealing for mobile enterprise customers, and it's inked a deal with IBM to do so. IBM will design enterprise applications that give companies greater visibility into their employees and customers and greater access to real-time data, with a specific focus on retail and financial services industries. IBM signed a similar deal with Apple back in 2014.

The Apple Watch is smart, pretty and plummeting in popularity. 2016 sales for the device were down 55% in the second quarter, and Apple’s iron grip on market share has slipped from 72% in 2015 to 48% today, according to market research firm IDC. Granted, controlling nearly half the market of a burgeoning mobile device category is nothing to sniffle at, but Apple can't be thrilled about the larger trajectories at play.

Finally, Skype launched a new free service that streamlines audio and video conferencing for small businesses and mobile enterprises. With Skype Meetings, mobile teams can share screens and PowerPoint presentations while they conference. The service lacks the bells and whistles of the Skypefor Business suite (meetings max out at 10 people per meeting, for example), but if you're operating on a startup budget, it's a strong option for boosting collaboration on the cheap.

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

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