Less than a week after its launch(July 6, 2016), the augmented reality mobile exploration game Pokémon Go:
1. Was installed on twice as many phones as Tinder
2. Had double the engagement of Snapchat
3. Was positioned to surpass Twitter’s daily users
If you’re unfamiliar with this obviously mesmerizing app, here’s the jist. The phone’s GPS and camera overlay the Pokémon world on to the real world, allowing players’ avatars to explore with them in a quest to catch Pokémon, collect rewards from PokeStops, battle other users at Gyms, and team up to defend their territory. The phenomenon reaps applause for getting couch-potatoes to log hours of time outside, walking or biking about their communities, smartphone in hand.
The business world can take a lesson or two – maybe even twenty – from the impact of the game’s skyrocketing popularity.
Lesson #1 – So what if it wasn’t your idea?
That doesn’t mean you can’t reap some the rewards. But sure, if you’d rather pout in the why-couldn’t-that-be-me corner wearing various shades of green envy, knock yourself out. Or you could take a lesson from smart business owners who’ve polished up their entrepreneurial thinking caps and have discovered multiple ways to connect with gamers. Who will need nourishment and thirst-quenching beverages throughout their journeys? Who may soon need to purchase new shoes as theirs wear thin from miles of walking? The possibilities are endless.
Bottom line: if something, anything, is attracting droves of people anywhere near your business, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of the situation.
Lesson #2 – So what if it’s a fad?
Scoffers no doubt shook their heads at the scores of people engrossed in this new craze, muttering, “Nothing but a fad.” Naysayers said the same thing about the original Pokémon game. Uh, some thought the internet would never really “catch on.”
The truth is no one knows how long the fascination with Pokémon Go or any other new big thing will last. With Pokemon, the craze settled down . . . until Niantic Labs released an update the end of February. The lesson here is that asking “how long will it last?” is the wrong question. Oh sure, you don’t necessarily mortgage the business to capitalize on what may or may not prove to be a fad. But sitting back and twiddling your thumbs because this could be just a passing whim, is ridiculous. Seriously, who can afford to bypass any opportunity for creating strong bonds with new customers? No one, that’s who.
Lesson #3 – Don’t let your weaknesses hold you back
Very possibly the greatest lesson to be learned comes from Nintendo itself who licensed their Pokémon brand to a partner whose strength made up for Nintendo’s weakness. Niantic Labs merged the iconic Pokémon brand with a game strategy they’d already created for another mobile-based game, Ingress, whose brand did not achieve breakout success.
Where Nintendo had failed to excel – the world of mobile gaming – Niantic Labs had expertise. And because Nintendo understood their limitations and chose to push forward in a different direction, their market value busted through the roof in the first week of Pokémon Go’s availability.
Craze, fad, whim, ultimate game-changer – call it what you will. The business world would do well to study and learn from the Pokémon Go phenomenon.
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