Will Pokémon Go Change the Mobile Landscape?

Here at Progress we’re infatuated with Pokémon Go, the Pokémon collecting app that has taken the world by storm. As such, we’ve invited a few of our Telerik Developer Experts to talk about the game, and the longterm impact it’ll have on the mobile and business worlds. The questions for today’s Slack chat are:

  • What will Pokémon Go change about the way companies build apps moving forward, if anything?
  • Do you envision this type of “collecting” app having applicability outside of games?
  • If you were to build an app like this for a business, what would it look like?

TJ VanToll: First, let’s have everyone provide a brief intro to who you are, and also your starting Pokémon of choice 🙂

I can start, I’m TJ on the Telerik Developer Relations team, and I’ve been a Bulbasaur fan all the way back to Pokémon Red back in the day.

Nick Branstein: Nick – Telerik Develop Expert, and Consultant at KiZAN Technologies. I chose Charmander to start. (GO TEAM MYSTIC!)

Matt Millican: I’m Matt, a lead web developer at Graydient Creative, Telerik Developer Expert for Kendo UI, and have to go Charmander all the way

Jen Looper: I’m Jen on the Developer Relations team with TJ, I’m completely new to this strange new world but I think the first Pokémon I found in my kitchen was a Charmander so…I’ll pick that one!

Brad Martin: Brad – Telerik Dev Expert, Director of development at NAStek National, and consultant with Thorum. I was a Squirtle fan day one, got a Blastoise in my first card pack.

Jen Looper: Did you all play this when you were kids?

TJ VanToll: I’d be embarrassed to admit just how much I’ve played. 🤓

Nick Branstein: I’m a 90s child so I remember the original game on GameBoy.

Brad Martin: I never played the game. It was all card trading at school.

Matt Millican: I played a little when I was younger. My parents recently brought over all my cards as they were cleaning out. I don’t think the wife has seen them yet :sunglasses:

Nick Branstein: You just have to get your wife playing like me.

Matt Millican: She said last night on the boat she’s going to “divorce” me 😛

TJ VanToll: Ok, first question: what will Pokémon Go change about the way companies build apps moving forward, if anything. Who wants to get us started?

Jen Looper: I think Pokémon Go offers the perfect storm of AR interface plus cuteness plus nostalgia. Will a company be able to leverage it?

Some brick and mortars are making bank – see There’s a Pokémon in my restaurant, and business is booming

Matt Millican: TJ, I think Pokémon Go just sort of “leveled” up mobile apps. Their combination of AR with GPS and everything else is pretty amazing in my opinion

Nick Branstein: I’m not so sure because I think the one thing that makes Pokémon Go huge hit…is the Pokémon license itself.

TJ VanToll: Agreed. Ingress was a somewhat similar app, and it didn’t have anywhere near this level of attention.

Jen Looper: Supposedly Ingress and Pokémon Go share the same backend engine?

Nick Branstein: Correct. And same developer and I’m sure it has the same guts inside.

Jen Looper: Anyone remember FourSquare? You used GPS to “check in” to places and become “Mayor”. What’s different here?

Brad Martin: For me it wasn’t so much the AR that I immediately thought about. I thought of the marketing/advertising.

Nick Branstein: Here’s something interesting as to how fast this game has really taken off.

I’m a firm believer that it’s all because they got the Pokémon license from Nintendo.

Jen Looper: Yes, Brad. Here’s an example: How Your Business Can Profit with Pokémon GO

You can ‘lure’ the lil creatures

Matt Millican: Jen, I think the difference to me is the AR addition, honestly.

Nick Branstein: There are local businesses in Louisville offering discounts to different colored team members. Last night my wife and I specifically went to a place for dinner just because there was a Pokestop there we could sit and spin.

Jen Looper: Could we leverage the Pokémon API for interesting integrations?

Matt Millican: Our company is starting to do AR at one of our hotels and it’s been getting pretty good traction.

Jen Looper: Can you tell us how you’re using AR?

Matt Millican: In one of our historic hotels, there is a lot of artwork that has a story behind it, so as you’re walking around the hotel, you can “capture” a piece of artwork and it will display a story or video explaining it a little more

TJ VanToll: That’s pretty cool. I could see this same sort of idea being useful for any sort of touring or tourism app.

Nick Branstein: I’d love to see that in action.

TJ VanToll: Any other apps out there in the stores we can think of that do something similar?

Jen Looper: So another collecting app, Neko Atsume, has a different interface. You ‘lure’ cats into your ‘world’ with treats and toys

Jen Looper: I wonder if a fitness app could use this type of interface, encouraging certain behavior with this type of ‘lure’.

TJ VanToll: With in-app purchases to make your running achievement a little easier! 😉

Matt Millican: Hey, Pokémon Go is “getting people outside” 😉

Nick Branstein: That may be the next iteration of fitness apps or fitness pals. Go to this GPS location and do these X exercises. Or excercise with Pikachu.

Jen Looper: Brilliant!

Brad Martin: Summed up nicely here 🙂 Pokémon GO got more American kids off the sofa in 4 days than Michelle Obama’s 7 years of haranguing

Matt Millican: That is awesome.

Nick Branstein: That’s one of my favorite tweets haha

Matt Millican: Nick, that’s a great idea! It could easily rope in some good social graph interaction there too I feel.

Jen Looper:

Brad Martin: I’ve literally seen kids in my neighborhood who I haven’t seen in almost 3 years there.

Jen Looper: Now I want to use the Pokémon API to build a fitness app.

TJ VanToll: So this segues into our next topic really nicely, as I think we’re already talking about it: do you envision this type of “collecting” app having applicability outside of games?

I could sort of see a chain offering you coupons or achievements for visiting multiple locations, or something like that.

Jen Looper: Pure genius

Matt Millican: Absolutely. Especially for the field sales, some sort of gamification/rewards system.

Jen Looper: I think restaurants could use them to lure people, definitely. Maybe our TDEs need their own custom Pokémon 🙂

My daughter and I immediately wondered if you can ‘brand’ a Pokémon.

Nick Branstein: TJ, I think you may see the opposite happen – i.e. the collecting gaming aspects make it into other apps

TJ VanToll: Could you give a few examples?

Brad Martin: Yes. I’ve already started to think of a way to integrate into an app for the company I work for. It’s a fuel program for trucking companies. So I was thinking certain chains in this network might offer a free meal or free drink to the drivers if they are at the specific location. So it’s nothing new I don’t think but it’s revitalized the way I think about using location/GPS in business apps. Of course the monetization coming from the specific fuel stops paying for that advertisement.

Matt Millican: I agree with Brad

Jen Looper: goodness: Pokémon Go hints at McDonald’s partnership, hidden features

The selling begins!

Nick Branstein: Well that’s the million dollar question right there. Something like visit X spots and we’ll give you this.

Brad Martin: Jen, I just talked with someone about that. Even if they put specific Pokémon in a McDonald’s, most people who walk in a McD’s will buy something. 💸

Jen Looper: Yes

Matt Millican: HAHA

Jen Looper: Honestly Tinder is a collecting type app…

Matt Millican: That’s a good point Jen. Even things like Untappd. You “check-in” and “level-up” to get rewards.

TJ VanToll: This sort of brings us to our last topic, which we’ve also somewhat covered, can your average company building your average app take advantage of this sort of thing, or do you need the Pokémon brand for this sort of approach to succeed?

Jen Looper: This all reminds me of the Star Trek Next Generation episode about that game that was addicting, and allowed the aliens to take over or something.

Nick Branstein: Ya it’s less about the AR aspect of things (although that is awesome to us devs) and more about leveraging the entire world as your marketing team.

Jen Looper: Will it ever end? This news anchor interrupted a weather forecast while playing Pokémon Go – News anchor playing Pokemon Go strolls through live weather forecast

No collecting app will work until it goes viral and has many thousands of people heavily involved

Brad Martin: Good list of funny tweets: Literally Just 26 Hilarious Tweets About Pokémon Go

“I’m going to get arrested for trespassing in my quest to be the very best.”

Matt Millican: TJ, I think Pokémon Go has the brand behind it, but if it didn’t have the same experience it does, I don’t think it would be quite as big a hit

Nick Branstein: It’s all about the brand

Jen Looper: Neko Atsume has 4,000 reviews, Pokémon Go has something like 8,000. Neko doesn’t have the brand behind it.

Matt Millican: I think for your average company to be able to do anything, you’d have to already have a HUGE following already.

Nick Branstein: Gamers have been begging for a Pokémon game they could play on their phones since the first iPhones launched.

It was only a matter of time

Jen Looper: One thing I noticed about this is the entirely new demographic it’s bringing into mobile apps. It’s bringing the 46-year-old moms into the mobile games (cough) and it’s getting the kids out of their console world.

TJ VanToll: I think it’s also worth noting that you don’t have to succeed at Pokémon Go’s level to provide some value for your company. If you can be inspired by the implementation, and bring in a few more customers by adding similar collecting and/or AR interactions to your app then that’s a small victory too. I think some of the ideas Matt and Brad have shared make a lot of sense with that in mind.

Jen Looper: If established apps like OpenTable could simply gamify their interface a bit, it would be a huge win. They already have the audience and engaged users.

Nick Branstein: Agreed

Matt Millican: Completely agree with that. Or Yelp, Untapp’d etc

Jen Looper: Oh yes, Untapp’d. Right now it’s just badges. Imagine the possibilities.

TJ VanToll: Such as? Paint me a picture of Untappd with Pokémon Go-inspired features.

Matt Millican: I mean Untapp’d has some rewards behind it, but not quite the same.

Jen Looper: Well Untapp’d would really work best with Real Rewards like those offered by Kiip. You collect 10 beers and get a coupon for Aspirin.

Brad Martin: Agreed but also certain bars offering “achievements” would be cool to me.

Nick Branstein: Untapp’d should offer discounts w/Uber once you drink X beers in a session 😊

Jen Looper: Now that’s the ticket. Untapp’d is a little special b/c of the mature(r) audience. Yelp would be able to offer some more youthful achievements.

Matt Millican: I would love to see the bars be able to tie into Untapp’d a little more, to encourage loyalty maybe? You drink X beers from us and we’ll give you a free one next time?

TJ VanToll: Designate certain bars as gyms 😛 No safety problems there.

Jen Looper: I still feel the most exciting idea here has been creating real gyms out of Pokémon gyms – some really exciting integrations for fitness apps.

Nick Branstein: TJ, Did you say safety?

TJ VanToll: 🙂

Jen Looper: Anyone going to try to use AR in their apps?

Matt Millican: We may be doing another AR app later this year, but I’m not sure yet and can’t say much more about it, except it’s the same restaurant that I built the NS app for a few months back. And that may be more of a “treasure hunt” type of thing too.

Jen Looper: Sounds super fun

Brad Martin: No AR, just location incentives/offerings for users.

TJ VanToll: Jen, what are your thoughts on AR + beacons, since that’s sort of your thing?

Jen Looper: Yeah, I was thinking a little along these lines

TJ VanToll: Imagine a treasure hunt with something actually there in AR.

Jen Looper: The thing about beacons is they require a big physical installation and battery maintenance.

Matt Millican: Beacons would be super cool.

Jen Looper: These virtual Pokémons take away that pain point

Nick Branstein: Does anyone feel this is the beginning to Ready Player One?

TJ VanToll: Oh yes. (Great book btw)

Ok so it sounds like we see some definite potential for these sorts of apps, even outside of the Pokémon universe. Any last notes here?

Matt Millican: I’m super excited to see where the AR stuff goes. I feel VR is still a ways out because of the barrier to entry, but virtually everyone has a smartphone, so AR is within an arm’s reach.

I think Pokémon Go did a super job with the experience (so far)

Jen Looper: Honestly I’ve never seen a mobile app, game or otherwise, blow up this quickly. It’s the perfect combination of a great brand mixed with AR and the excitement of an unpredictable interface. I really believe that businesses can leverage at least a piece of that perfect combination, especially at Pokémon Go has paved the way.

Nick Branstein: I really think that AR is something we can geek out on but…I think the adding elements of games into your apps or business is where the money is at.

Also #GoTeamBlue

TJ VanToll: I’m just upset that zero Pokémon have wandered into my office during this conversation. And #GoTeamRed.

Matt Millican: I’m going to go grab some lunch, I better find at least one.

Jen Looper: Thanks for this chat! It was fun!

Nick Branstein: Someone in the office (not me) has a timer setup. 7 minutes from now 10+ co-workers will get up and walk to the window to catch something.

Still waiting for the Pokémon Go update that lets you capture strangers’ pets.

Brad Martin: I do see potential for AR in business apps. Several ideas come to mind that you can monetize on. Not sure many will ‘break the bank’ with it but there are great applicable use cases for business apps. For me it’s really revitalized the location based offerings. Google has been doing that for a while (sending notifications when I am inside a certain store, happened this past weekend but now I don’t remember which store 😕. With marketing and advertising to provide incentives for a store to your users is where the money is at.

TJ VanToll: That’s it for today everyone. Happy Pokémon-ing!

A Pokémon appears in the Telerik offices!

A Pokémon appears in the Telerik offices!

Header image courtesy of Darren Mark Domirez

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