Back in the day, I was a pretty average Pokémon fan. I collected a few cool holographic cards, had the multi-colored Game Boy games, and even went so far as buying the hit Nintendo 64 game, Pokémon Snap, where you would basically roam around virtually and take pictures of Pokémon in the game world. I didn't realize that 17 years later, this would become a reality right on my iPhone.
I have to tell you, this is the most fun I've had with an app in a long time, and for what it's worth, it's some of the best use of augmented reality I've ever seen--it's how truly immersive AR was meant to be.
Even if it's a novelty and will wear off, it's clear why everyone is trying to catch 'em all and downloading one of the hottest apps in the world.
So what exactly is Pokémon Go, and why are so many more people walking around outside?
If Waze and Foursquare had a child that was really into working out, the result would be Pokémon Go. That analogy might be a bit extreme, but for starters, Pokémon Go is freemium augmented reality app developed by Niantic. The game allows you to capture, battle, train, and trade (eventually) Pokémon that actually appear right on your camera.
And the walkers?
Imagine you're using Google's GPS and walking to a destination, but these destinations are either hot spots to catch Pokémon, landmarks to get cool items, or "gyms" (which you can use once you're level 5) to battle other Pokémon, ultimately becoming the champion of that gym, which is just like being the mayor of a Foursquare spot. There are a ton of resources out there for those interested in learning more.
I've been playing for a little over 24 hours now and have walked well over five miles with ease. Fad or not, the app does a fantastic job at making exercise fun, which makes it score some major points.
A few incredible stats since its July 6 launch in the U.S.:
- Currently the No. 1 free app on iOS and Google Play marketplaces
- Estimated daily revenue is $1.6 million (U.S. and iOS only)
- Nintendo and Google invested $30 million to make the app
- Nintendo shares jumped 10 percent since the launch
The bottom line:
It's too early to tell whether Pokémon Go will have staying power, but it's clear that this phenomenon has gone viral and for good reason.
One thing is certain...as long as this app is around, I'm going to crush my walking goals.