They are hard to miss. It might be one individual, a group of two or three, or a traveling hoard. They all have their eyes glued to their smart phones as they travel city streets and suburban parks in search of Pokémon. In the span of just a few weeks in the summer of 2016, the Pokémon Go phenomena has exploded into existence, gotten couch potatoes out into the parks and woods and has nerds TALKING TO EACH OTHER.
It’s easy to dismiss the craze as a silly waste of time. In a year, Pokémon GO may fade like the hula hoop fad, but to dismiss it as frivolous misses the point. Tech savvy coffee shops, pizza parlors, bakeries, restaurants, clothing stores, Best Buy, and even dentists are increasing revenues by embracing it. Museums and parks looking to increase traffic have found ways to plug in to the craze. Even if you think the Pokémon GO has absolutely no relevance to you and your business, you still need to pay attention to it.
Pokémon GO shows the REVOLUTIONARY potential of social networking combined with “Augmented Reality”. If you don’t know the game, it’s a smart phone app that “projects” Pokémon characters and “tools” on a real street map, lets you pick up items and “capture” Pokémon characters (think Angry Birds!) In some modes, you can “see” the Pokémon character projected onto your surroundings via your smartphone’s camera.
The “augmented reality” and social networking combine to be a potential “game changer.” I can remember back twenty-five years ago to the early days of the internet. Mostly young people were “browsing” to sites to bid for Pez Dispensers (a venture that evolved into eBay,) trade pirated music, and get baseball scores in near real-time. Even some of us who understood the potential of the internet were shocked at how quickly it changed the way every company in the world did business.
Pokémon Go might not change your business overnight, but augmented reality could, and sooner than you think. I’m not suggesting you download the app immediately and head out on your lunch hour to level up ASAP, but at least understand what’s behind the phenomenon. Please beware, the game can be addicting; if you download the app you just might be spending your weekends wandering your local park trying to catch the squirrel monster Eevee. Just remember to watch out for real squirrels while you are searching.