Why Pokémon Go and the Mainstream Arrival of Augmented Reality Is Good For Business

Since its release just a few weeks ago Pokémon Go has been catapulted into the headlines for a variety of reasons. The explosive popularity of the mobile game has divided opinion. Bad news sells and traditional media seized on the opportunity to exaggerate the negative aspects or the lengths people will go to catch ’em all!

Maybe Niantic missed the memo that stated 2016 was going to be the year of a completely immersive virtual reality experience. The success of the game suggests that audiences prefer the augmented reality technology that overlays images into their real world rather than shutting themselves away from it via a giant VR headset.

A combination of technology and nostalgia is proving to be a winning formula. But, the last few weeks has taught us is not about Pokémon or even a game, this is the watershed moment where augmented reality has entered the mainstream.

During this digital transformation, we are also witnessing an increasing digital divide within the business community. On one side, we have the old guard who would love to see the game banned.

They argue that people are playing or having fun in the most inappropriate places and becoming a danger to themselves. The idea of people walking around looking at their phones rather than marketing messages or buying more stuff is bad for business.

However, there is also a new school of thinking where the entrepreneurial spirit is leading the way. Ensuring your business has the ability to make the most out of opportunities from the latest trends is proving to be invaluable.

For example, an Icelandic tour company is now offering Pokemon Go tours in buses that have free wi-fi and even a charging point to ensure you do not run out of battery when a blue water puffin appears. In the UK, savvy cab drivers have launched their own Pokemon taxi tours after noticing an increase in riders requesting cabs to catch Pokemon

In Australia, café manager Matia Zoffoli turned to the game to help boost profits during the quietest time of the year. A $1.49 investment for a 30-minute “lure” to place on a nearby PokeStop sent hundreds of customers her way. Embracing the opportunities from this latest craze is dramatically increasing footfall in ways that traditional methods of advertising could only dream of.

These are not isolated stories and seem to be spreading on a daily basis. Businesses from all over the world are discovering the phenomenal ROI of these in-game lures that are illustrating how augmented reality is blurring the lines between the virtual and physical world.

The new wave of innovative marketing is sweeping the globe in a positive way. Users now tune out of the white noise bombarding them with irrelevant advertising messages. The valuable lesson learned over the last few weeks is how a game has enabled consumers and businesses to interact seamlessly without being intrusive.

While the mainstream media has focused on worst case scenario cases of criminals using the game to tempt vulnerable young players to isolated locations, it seems they have missed the overwhelming positive opportunities it is delivering to businesses. Any retailer that is located close to a PokeStop or a Gym can quickly to lure more customers to their store for just over a dollar an hour.

Larger organizations are notoriously struggling to keep up to with younger and agiler companies. The events over the last few weeks have proven the importance of knowing when to capitalize on big trends when the time is right. Those that are already doing this will be increasing revenue as we speak at the expense of corporations that are shackled by their own processes and red tape.

The future of the game itself will depend on future updates to keep people interested. Many will dismiss the success of Pokémon Go as yet another online fad that will soon disappear. But, this form of legacy thinking shows a lack of understanding of our digital landscape and how it is changing the world of business.

Following emerging gaming trends and technology will enable early adopters to gain a significant advantage over their competitors. Creating value and increasing growth now require companies have the agility to master the art of successful pivots to reap the rewards.

2016 began with the assumption that we were about to immerse ourselves in virtual reality. Six months later, both consumers and businesses are jumping between the virtual and real world through augmented reality. Long after Pokémon Go has left our streets for good, others will follow using the same principles.

Before sneering at the game or the people playing it, remember that more than 75 million have hit the download button. In essence, this represents more people than the entire population of the UK who have embraced augmented reality.

The lifespan of Pokémon Go might be limited, but the big news is that that AR is firmly in the mainstream and this changes everything. Maybe it’s time to think twice before being so dismissive or wishing it will go away. The success of the mobile game has just provided a glimpse into the future.

There is a dramatic shift towards the embedding of location-based services and augmented reality features into mobile apps. Realizing this potential and how it could help your business is a valuable lesson you would be foolish to ignore.